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D G O. 75 .1 


English Translation 


(History of Indian Astronomy) 


Sankar Balakrishna Dikshit 

[Translated by Prof. R. V. Vaidya, m. a. b. t.] 


History of Astronomy during the Vedic and Vedanga periods 


Price : Inlaa-3 Rs. 12.50. Foreign 29 sh. 2d. or 4$ 50 cents. 

Issued under the authority of 


Editing done at 




Copies available from ;— 

In India : 

The Manager of Publications, 
Civil Lines, Delhi-6 

Government of India Book Depot, 
8, Hastings Street, Calcutta-! 

Government of India Kitab Mahal, 
Janpath, New Delhi 

State Government Book Depots 
at Bombay. Madras and other cities 

And other agents selling Government of India publications. 

Outside India : 

The High Commission of India, 
India House, Aldwych, London, W* C.2. 


In the remote past, when man first appeared on this planet, 
lie would have looted with awe and wonder at the glory of the 
heavenly bodies like the sun, the moon and the stars. He would 
not have failed to notice that these bodies kept moving across the 
sky. However, centuries must have rolled by before some inqui- 
sitive and careful observers could discover that there w?s some 
periodicity in the movement of these heavenly bodies and such a 
rhythmic movement could be utilised to reckon time and to keep 
a count of the days and the months in the year. This was the 
beginning of Astronomy, which is one of the earliest sciences ever 
to be discovered in the history of mankind. When and where 
exactly this occurred, or it occurred at several places independently 
of each other, it is difficult to say now, because the early man did 
not have with him any means of keeping a record of his thoughts 
and observations. In India, which is one of the oldest civilizations 
in the world, we get evidence of astronomical observations as early 
as 4000 B. C. in the verses of the Rig- Veda and in some developed 
form later in the Yajur-Yeda. As early as 1300 B. C. the Hindus 
developed a luni-solar calendar known as the Vedanga Jyotisa 
Calendar. This was in vogue upto the third century A. D. There- 
after, astronomy in our country took a sharp turn and a new system 
based on scientific principles called the" Siddh antic system came 
into prominence. This development which continued upto the 
12th century A. D. came to a standstill due to continued foreign 
invasions thereafter. The great epics, the Ramayana and the 
Mahabharata, contain some astronomical knowledge in a rather 
rudimentary form. Puranas which are works of a later period 
contain astronomical knowledge in an improved form, apparently 
due to the influence of the Siddhantic system 1 of Astronomv. 

For a country like India, with its culture and civilization 
dating back to many millenia, it is essential that the achievements 
of earlier generations in the various fields of knowledge should be 
carefully unearthed and fully recorded. This history of Astronomv 
of the ancient and medieval periods of India falls under this category 
rEl V—"^ stud y in this fi eld requires to be made. But the 
difficulties in undertaking such a comprehensive study are enor- 
mous in that the information has to be gathered from the vast 
store of Sanskrit literature extending from the Vedic period upto 
the present time, and in our literature, the astronomical observa- 
tions are not recorded in a clear, cut language but so to sav have 


been shrouded in allegorical language and concealed in stories and 
anecdotes, tlie full significance of which, it is difficult to surmise. 
One such comprehensive study, perhaps the only one of its kind, 
has been undertaken by Shri Sankar Balakrishna Dikshit in his 
treatise in Marathi "Bharatiya Jyotish Sastracha Prachin . Ani 
Arvachin Itihas " in the year 1896 and this is perhaps the only 
book recording the history of the Indian Astronomy from the 
ancient to the modern times. Late Dr. M. N*. Saha, F.R.S., while 
working as Cha irman of the Calendar Reform Committee recommen- 
ded that an English translation of this excellent treatise "Bharatiya 
Jyotish Sastra, a history of Indian Astronomy— ancient and 
modern " should be published by the Government in order to 
facilitate Indologists, both Indian and foreign, to carry on research 
on Indian Astronomy. The work of the translation of this treatise 
from Marathi to English was gladly undertaken by Prof. R . V. 
Vaidya, M.A., B.T., a Marathi scholar and Superintendent of Shree 
Jiwaji Observatory, Ujjain and who was also a member of the 
Calendar Reform Committee. This translation was examined and 
touched up here and there by Late Prof. P. C. Sen Gupta, M.A., 
a renowned Pro^es&or of Hindu Astronomy of the Calcutta Uni- 
versity. With the transfer of the entire work of the Calendar 
Reform Committee to the India Meteorological Department, it 
decided to publish this work. The final editing of the book has been 
done under the supervision of Shri N. C. Labiri, M.A., Officer-in- 
charge of the Nautical Almanac Unit at the Meteorological Office, 
Alipore, Calcutta. 

The book is rather voluminous and it would take considerable 
time to publish the whole book in one volume. Hence it has been 
decided to publish the book in three parts. The present volume 
which is Part I traces the history of Indian Astronomy in the 
Vedic and Vedanga period from the ancient times upto 1000 B.C. 
Attempts are being -made to bring out the other two parts com- 
prising of the Siddhantic period and the Modern period as early 
as possible. 

India Meteorological Department, L. S. Mathur, 

Lodi Road } New Delhi. Director General of Observatories. 

18th April, 1968. 



History of Astronomy During theVedic and Yedanga Periods 


Preface '.. . 
Author's Preface 
Introduction , 




Section — / 

Origin of the Universe .... 

Configuration of the Universe . , 
The Earth, Space and the Heavens . 
The Moon's Place . . . . , 

The Infiniteness of the Universe 
Sun, The Support of All Worlds 
Sun, the cause ef Seasons . . 
Sun, the cause of Winds , , , 

Seven Horses of the Sun , , . , 
Only one Sun and one Dawn . , . , 
The Earth, round and supportless (Day and Night) 
. Units of Time . . , , . . 
Krta and other w ords occurring in the Vedas 
The Five year Cycle . , 

The Year ... 

Months were Lunar 
The year was Solar . . 

The Measures of Savana Lunar and Solar Years 
The Ayanas . ... . . 

Seafons . . . . ... 

Number of Seasons 
The First Season . . . 
Commencement of Seasons . . , 
The Months 

( vii ) 



7 . 








The Months — contd* 
Names of months . . . 

The solar months . ' . . 

The Antanta and Purafoianta Months 
Tae Parva and the Apara Half . 
The Day 

Names of days 

Vyagtaka and Ud f gta * 
The Moon's Phases ".' . 
Jioon's Light . 
W^ere does the Moon dwell on 
Dai£a, Paiva, Anumati etc. 
Motions of the Sun and the Moon 
Days of the week . . . 

The length of the day 
The Equinoctial day 
Parts of the day . 
Fifteen muhurtas 
The Sub-divisions of Muhftrtas . 
Xatt and K5 8 tha 
Ellipses . 
planets , 
Venus . 
Meteors and Gonlets 
Anspicious Time 
Commencement of the Year 

The Divine day 

» day , 









Section— 11 

Chapter I— Vedangae P±QB 

1. Astronomy . . . . . • . . ■. • ■ . • ^ ^ 

(1) Rigveda Jyotiga • . • . * • . • • ■ • • ®$ 

(%) Yajurroda Jyotj$a • . • • ' • • **. 

Study of ^-Yajur-Vedanga-Jyotiaa * . . • * * •'.•." $$ 

The Composition Period . . " ' • • 8® 

The Place of Composition . . . ' . . . • • • - • W 

Ay a na Calana . \ . ♦ . • • • • 90 

Detailed information about length ofa year etc* . ♦ • • .90 

The Paficanga • • • * • ' ** 

Apapatha • • • * • • • • • .93 

Pradhana P&tha # • »..-"•-•■"• • • • ^4 

Planetary motions . . . . 95 

Mean motions of planets , . • . . . . . • ** 

The Year . . . - « w 

He Month ■ . m - . . . . . . .. • • * m 

The first Nakgatra . . .. , ■ . * . . • ♦ _•• 

Arithmetic. . . • ^ 

The Ascendant (Lagna) ^ • ■ • ** 

Mega and other signs . • • * . • • . . . ■ . 9§ 

Solar Months . ♦ . • * v . • • • .-•■■ •* *"* 

Parvag^tja . * • • '•".".- 

Identical Divisions for Time and Space . • . • ; . ♦ : . " 97 

< 3) Atharva Jyotiga . . . • * • • ■ •■ • • .9^ 

The Time Units . . . 97 

The Kara^ and Auspicious times , *** 

Vara or names of days and names of planeto . • * * • 98 

Jataka Branch <rf Astrology * . ai 

2. KalpaStttraa . . . ♦ . . . . . . *00 

Ajfrvalayana Sfttra « * • ■ • . * . • 100 

Paraskara Sutra * * . * 100 

,> ■■■.-- :n 


com feirrs 

— Kalpft Sutras— contd. Page 

Other S6tr»s . . . . . . . , . . . / i 01 

3. Nimkta . ... . .... . . . 101 

Yoga and other Unite of Time % \ > , . , , . , 102^ 

4. paciinis Grammar , . m \q% 

Chapter Il—Smfti, Mah&bhamta etc. * 

MannSmrti. , ', . . . . .... . . . 10* 

The Yuga system ' ■. . . . / . , . . k . ^ 10 $ 

Yajfiavalkya Smirti . \ , . # # , . , ; # I06 . 

Names of Week days. , . . , . . . . _ i 05 . 

The Yuga system .- . . . . . . . ' . . . io& 

Twelve parts of the Ecliptic .' . . , . . . . : 105* 

Yoga . . . , v . ■ . . . . . . , 106 

Other matters of interest . . , , , m % . ' jq^ 

Mahabharata . . # ■• . . • . . ■ . ."■>■' . 10T 

Itstrole . . .. .,' / . ■ - . * . „ . 107 

The Yuga system . , . # . , , # ; . ; ^ * 1W) / 

The system of Vedanga Jyotiga . . . • . . . . 109* 

Winter Solstice and Havana star . # m u^ 

Othermatters . . ■ . . ...... HI 

Week-days . .. . . . . , . . p 112 * 

Nakgatras ;. . . . . . - . , ... . . 112" 

OtherStars ..... . . , , . , v # lls 

Yogas, Kara^as and names of 12 Rasis . , . . , . 11$ 

Solar Months . . ■ ' , no. 

Eclipses . . , m t ....... 114- 

ViAvaghasra Pakgia . * , . . , # # m m # 114 

Planets . lift 

■ • • • • • • • » 1 1& 

Retrograde Motion of Planets . . . . . * . . # , 117 

Planetary Conjunctions # # . llV 

Positions f Planets at the Time of Bharata Battle , . . . # 117 

Knowledge about Planets l la 

Pandavas Time . , -.-•■' Us 

Knowledge of Planetary Motions ; - . # . 

Miracles of Nature .- . ■ .. . » . 

The Sam hita Section . . * . • .' *• 

SunUrt&ry . , • * * • * . 


The Time of gatapatha Brahmapa . ♦ . . . 

The Tinle of Krttikadi system ♦ . . . ♦ . 

The Vedic Age ;. . « . . . • 

Who was the originator of the Nakgatra system . 

Caitra and other names . . • ' . . b 
The time when these terms (Caitra etc.) came into vogue 

Conlmencement of the year . , K . . . 

The Margaiir^adi System . . . • • 
Th^ J^imits of Vedic age 

The Limits of Vedanga Period . V . * , • 

In Vedic Age the year was Seasora* i-e* Solar \ - t I 
The Yuga Systeni . . . . . ' . . 

Rohini gakata Bheda . . . ...-■' 

Krttikadi System . ■ . . . . . . 

The Brief Summary . . . - 

* • 

* * 




ia» : 




-i t* 


The scheme of transliteration of Sanskrit alphabets into Roman script 
adopted in this publication is the same as generally followed. The corres- 
ponding scripts are given below : 



































































The subject matter of this book has been presented in broad outline in the 
Introduction and a detailed idea of the subjects dealt with can be obtained from 
the table of contents and the subject-index at the end. I do not consider it nece- 
ssary to dilate here on the utility of the book. If it be asked why the science of 
astronomy came into being at all, I have nothing more to say than that the science 
owes its origin to the natural curiosity of man. This science must have attaactetl 
the attention of man from times immemorial ; in fact, one may safely say l^atlt 
is the very first science evolved by man. This being so, I do not think th&i «tiy 
apology is required for undertaking the survey and discussion of the growth of 
this science in our country. 

The present work has no parallel in Sanskrit literature. Our people are not 
much inclined to assess the merit of different works in the light of chronological 
sequence ; an author born a couple of centuries ago is, in their eyes, almost on a 
par with one who flourished a thousand years ago* Again, they are not disposed 
to trace the history of any science nor have they developed the habit of recording 
the lives of ordinary men. These appear to be some of the reasons why the like 
of this book was never produced in the past. 

I propose to relate here in brief how the opportunity arose for writing thi& 
book. About the Saka year 1802 I began to take interest in the question of the 
Sayana Pancanga and eventually in Indian astronomy. As I went on dipping 
into old works I was led to estimate that comparative worth, to determine the 
chronological order of their compilation and to study the various stages in the 
growth of astronomy; and I began to feel that a work of this nature would be a 
welcome addition to our literature. In Saka 1806 a vigorous movement for calendar 
reform had been launched in this province. As a result of this the DaksinA 
Prize Committee of Poona published an advertisement in December 1884 for a 
book devoted to the consideration of the chaotic condition of our Pancangas in 
the light of the history of our astronomy. As I had a liking for the proposed 
subject I was naturally prompted to undertake the work. The prize announced 
for the work was Rs. 450 and the time li«ait prescribed for it was the end of the 
year 1886. But by that time I could not procure the necessary material, parti- 
cularly the ancient works and it was not possible for me to begin the writing* 
A request was then made to the Daksiita Prke Committee to extend the time limit r 
which was granted. But even then nearly six months passed simply in collecting 
the necessary information. At last I set my hand to the task of writing in November 
1887 and submitted Part I to the Committee in the beginning of 1888, Writing 
and the search for more material went on pari passu, though not without impe- 
dimenta. At long last I managed to present the whole work to the Committee 
in three instalments, by the end of October 1888. The contents of the w,mk 
would have amounted to 425 printed pages of a book of this size and they included 
the treatment of many more subjects and in much greater detail than what tie 
Committee had expected of me. The work was approved by the Committee 
and I received the full prize in 1891. Later I began to think of publishing the 
book ; but how could I undertake such an expensive project ? A few days later 
the proprietors of the Aryabhusan Press agreed to shoulder the responsibility. 
By this time, however, an advertisement for a treatise on Pancanga was published 
by the Qaihwad Government^ for which a prize of 1000 Gaikwadi rupees was 
announced ; accordingly I sent to the Gaikwad Govt, the relevant part of the book 

xm ) 


in the beginning of the Saka year 1815, i.e. in 1893 A.D. A number of people had 
been suggesting to me that the book should be published but to my mind it was 
not yet complete ; some new matter that had come to hand was to be inserted 
.at the proper places and some more was still to be collected. Moreover, I 
intended to await the decision of the Gaikwad Govt, about the work already sub- 
mitted.* I came over to Poona in July 1894. Many people urged me to publish 
the book and therefore, the proprietor of the Aryabhushan Press, commenced 
the printing in March 1895. While the book was in press, I went on reading old 
hooks not seen before and collecting still more information, as can be seen from 
the footnotes appearing at several pages of the book, 

A part of the matter originally submitted to the Daksina Prize Committee 
has been abridged and at times even omitted, so that the original volume which 
-covered 425 pages has now been reduced by 40 pages ; still, the present work has 
grown into a v<?lume of 524 pages. This amounts to an addition of 140 pages to 
the original, not to mention the index which is altogether new. 

Our people have not even a faint idea at present about the wealth of astrono- 
mical knowledge and astronomical literature in our country. The knowledge of 
the ordinary man is confined to the names of an astronomer or two like Bhas- 
karacarya and at the most the titles of a few works on astronomy. This work, 
however, contains an account of a host of astronomers and their works; even 
the* mere enumeration of their names covers two long lists at the beginning of the 
indices. The reader cannot but be astounded to see this marvellous wealth of 
knowledge, and as he reads the history of the growth of astronomy he will 
come to realize the great calibre of our ancestors from their extra-ordinary efforts, 
researches and curiosity and his heart will be overwhelmed with delight. 

It is needless to say that being scientific the present work will not be readily 
intelligible to all and sundry like works of fiction. It cannot, however, be said 
that every section of the book will be found unintelligible. Supposing the book 
is divided into sections of eight pages, then every such section contains something 
or other equally intelligible to all readers. The reader should, therefore, not 
despair if some passage is found to be abstruse, but should proceed with the reading. 
I am sure that no reader would be found who is unable to understand even a 
single page of this work. One reader may understand one subject, another may 
understand some other. One reader may find a particular part interesting and 
useful while another may be able to appreciate something else. The headings 
printed on the left side of the page at several places would give a glimpse into the 
subjects under discussion. Those headings and the table of contents or a glance 
at the subject-index at the end will enable the reader to find out any passage or 
subject that he likes. At some places technical terms have been used and if 
their meaning is not clear they may be looked up in the Index at the end for 
the page numbers for which their definitions, meanings or explanations can be 
found. Some of the terms have been explained in my book "JyotirVilasa". I 
was particularly keen on brevity in order that the volume may not run into 
great length. This has led to the introduction of lengthy compound words at 
some places in the book ; but these can be easily understood from the context, 

* The decision has been recently announced. My work has been approved and the prize 
awarded to me. r 


According to some the book has become voluminous, while others think that 
it has become too concise. On reading the advertisement of my book, a notable 
gentleman wrote to me that the proposed subjects would require at least 1000 
pages. As there is truth in both the views I have chosen to adopt the via media. 
Condensation of material cannot go beyond what is already done. On the other 
hand, if expansion is allowed, every page of the book can grow into four pages. 
Brevity could no doubt be achieved by omitting some of the subjects. But 
in view of the fact that opportunities for the publication of a work of this nature 
are few and far between, I have included in this book all available information 
on various subjects, that seemed noteworthy in my opinion. 

It is not claimed that the work is complete as it is. It has nothing to say about 
the astronomical references occurring in Valmiki's Ramayana. Nor does it con- 
tain anything about the astronomical references from any of the eighteen Purdnas. 
Some people suggested the inclusion of all these. But how much can I do single 
handed ? Again there_are still several works on astronomy which I have not 
seen. At present the Anandasrama of Poona alone has about 500 books on the 
subject. I have seen all of them ; still many of them have not been taken into 
.account in this book. The 'Aufrecht ' catalogue, referred to in this book contains 
the titles of about 2000 books on astronomy. How to procure them and when 
to read them ? Nevertheless my work contains all important information found 
in astronomical books, as also all astronomical information available from other 
works. Fortunately our country can proudly boast of several learned scholars 
at present who are far superior to me in capability. Any of them may take up 
the work where I leave it. I shall feel satisfied if my labours prove useful to them 
at least to some extent. 

Some had suggested to me that I should deal with such problems as the problems 
of divine incarnations like Rama and Parasurama in this work ; but so far I have 
not found reliable data that would lead up to the determination of such dates, 
nor do I think that they would ever be found. But one must not anticipate 
too much ; for as the poet says, the world is wide and time is endless. The trend 
of my views on this question can be obtained after going through the book in its 
entirety. The conclusion of Part I is an attempt to "determine the probable 
periods during which particular periods were compiled. 

The question as to what subjects have been or ought to have beep dealt with in 
this book seems to have evoked quite a variety of beliefs that this work contains 
tables for computing almanacs, that it contains different methods of calculating 
planet's places on the basis of any Siddhanta work, that it explains the theory 
underlying all these methods, that it also gives a method for independently com- 
puting an accurate almanac like the one computed with the help of the Nautical 
Almanac, that it also includes choice Jataka works which would enable one to cast 
correct horoscopes. In short;, some people seemed to believe that this work con- 
tained the very quintessence of Jyoiisa sdstror— both astronomy and astrology. 
It is needless to say that it is impossible to incorporate all these subjects in this 
work. But I am glad to note that such beliefs clearly reflect a strong desire for 
_ knowledge on the part of our people. 

It has already been pointed out that there is no work like this in Sanskrit litera- 
ture. Some information can be found in English scattered at several places ; but 
if it is collected together it will not amount even to one fourth of the present work. 


The conclusion will show that several articles have been written in English by 
scholars of repute No one had, however, treated the subject in such a compre- 
hensive manner It is also obvious that it was never before treated from the 
Indian point of view. 

Every statement about the contents of old works made in this book without 
citing some authority is based on my reading of these works ; and I have most of 
such important works on astronomy in my possession. Every conclusion purport- 
ing to be the result of mathematical calculation, has been arrived at from- careful 
calculations personally made by me and I am sure that they are correct ; still as 
it is human to err, some errors might have crept in through oversight. In certain 
cases the necessary works were not available to me for reading and I had to rely 
on their authors and works while writing about their contents ; in all such cases 
I have cited the authority for my statements at the proper places. Again where 
extracts have been taken from other books bodily or in a summarised form I 
have cited chapter and verse for every quotation. Except for this, not a single 
line of this book is based or borrowed from any other book or its translation. 

Members of the Daksina Prize Committee had made a few suggestions to me 
for the improvement of the original work. All of them except the one for abridge- 
ment have been carried out. At some places in the original work I had severely 
criticized European scholars. The Committee suggested that all such severity 
should be entirely dispensed with. Accordingly, I have toned down all such 
passages, though I have maintained the main points of criticism. I cannot 
however help observing here that even some of our eminent scholars look upon 
the verdict of Europeans as gospel truth, howsoever absurd it may be. This indi- 
cates lack of confidence in one's capability and scholarship. 

Rao Bahadur M. G. Ranade suggested that controversial matters like the views 
of European scholars and my criticism of them should be expunged from this 
book and reserved for discussion in some English journals, so that the book may 
not become voluminous. Accordingly, I did discuss some of the questions in English 
journals ; still I did not feel it proper to remove the relevant portions from this 
book. It will be found useful by some readers at least if not all. If fortunately 
this work is translated into English, this detailed exposition of my views will come 
to the notice oi European scholars and receive proper consideration from them. A 
European scholar has written to me that parts of this work will have to be specially 
translated, if an English translation of the whole is not soon forthcoming. 

I want to urge my readers in all earnestness to keep a sharp look out for ancient 

™ /J $ aU eel H U ? S rateful and e( l uall y so > <** country, if any one informs 
me of the discovery of some works not yet seen by me. Not much account could 
be given in this book in respect of works compiled in such regions as Telangana 
Dravid and Bengal It is desirable that people should get as much information 
as possible about the more importance of such works as also about works like 
Nadlgrantkas. Again, the descendants of many of the authors mentioned in 
these pages might be still living ; and if they impart some more information to 
me it will no doubt, prove useful. 

As regards publicity of old works, it has been noticed that the Telangana and 
pravidian works are not widely known in other provinces. This seems to be due 
to the difference of script m which they are written . The works produced in Bengal 


are also not available in this province. Even then, looking to the difficulties of 
travel and communication in ancient times, one is really surprised to see hoiasr 
voluminous works could reach even the remote corners of India, how works like 
Grahaldghava, so frequently mentioned in this book, gained currency all over the 
country in a very short period of time, and how even mediocre works have been 
popularised. This wide-spread currency of books seems to be due to the fact 
that astronomers used to be patronised not only by Hindu Kings but also bjr 
Muslim Emperors. Moreover, it appears that most of them could count upon?, 
liberal reception from the Vidyapitha (Academy) at Varanasi, 

It is true that the number of works on astronomy is enormous. As however- 
ours is a very extensive country, a multiple of works devoted to the same subject 
of every day use were compiled in different provinces. Again, some works, specially 
the Karana works, became obsolete and useless in course of time, which also gave 
xise to different works in different ages ; further, several people appear to have- 
compiled several works on the same subject because it depends more or less on 
the ingenuity of the author or whether his work would be found to be perspicuous 
ot not. These are some of the reasons for the multiplicity of astronomical works, 
and their wide-spread currency. 

The Vedic mantras or Sanskrit verses have been frequently quoted in x this- 
book. If a full translation of all these is given, it would mean an increase in size~ 
It has, therefore, been given, not in all cases but only where it was very necessary 
to do so. At some places only a gist of the quotations is given, and at places 
where even that is not given, it can be gathered from the context to a certain extent. 
In giving the meaning of Vedic mantras, the original text has been followed. 
Words that must be taken as understood for proper construction of the passage 
have been given in square brackets and equivalents of words or phrases in paran- 
thesis*. Nothing has been added that is not in the original. The printing of Vedic 
mantras or Sanskrit verses is faultless on the whole. It was, however, impossible 
for me personally to write out the whole press copy. Consequently some errora 
might still have remained, if these were not noticed while correcting proofs ; but 
I could not help it. 


Biographical sketches of astronomers have been given in the Madhyamadhikara 
(Chapter on mean motions) ; these mainly deal with authors who compiled works 
on astronomy. If any of them happen to be compilers also of works on Samhiffi 
and Jataka, such works have been taken into account at the same place. As 
for the authors who have compiled no astronomical works but only works on 
Samhitd or Jataka, their lives have been given in the sections devoted to these 
Skandhas (branches). 

The life of each astronomer, as a rule, contains information on mostly the folio- 
wing points — his date, place, works compiled, commentaries on the works and 
an estimate of his capabilities. If any of his ancestors or descendants also happened 
to be authors, they are also taken into account. In addition to this, the remark- 
able feature of his life work, if any, has been mentioned in the contents. The 
contents give a list of works or their authors along with the &aka year which indi- 
cates the year of compilation unless the words birth Saka are added. 

♦This distinction could not be scrupulously observed in the English translation — Translator* 
2DGO/5ft B 


I am of opinion that the 'anusvara' (a dot denoting the nasal sound) need not 
!be added to the last letters of the words 'jethe', 'tethe', 'kothe' etc. and I also hold 
some independent views on the question of orthography. My views have been 
followed in certain cases ; but the copyists, proof correctors and even the compo- 
sitors have become so very familiar with the rule of the terminal dot, that the 
^anusvaras' have found their way into this book, even though eliminated in the 
press copy. 

It is my opinion that the names of ancient authors should not be mentioned 
in the honorific plural and this rule has been generally observed. As even the 
Almighty is spoken of in the singular, I do not think that the plural form e.g., 
"Bhaskaracarya Mhanatat" implies any greater respect for the author. It can 
safely be said that there is no honorific plural either in Sanskrit or even in English; 
It is at present customary, however, to use the plural form while speaking of certain 
personages living or recently deceased. I have generally retained only this, lest 
& breach of the formality should jar on the ears of my readers. 

As we are these days more familiar with the Christian era than, the Saka era, 
it is more convenient to discuss the dates of events in terms of Christian era. Our 
astronomical works, however, invariably use the Saka era. Let the work belong 
.to any part of India whatsoever, it is bound to use the ^aka year, even if it is 
not in use in every day life there. I have accordingly used the Saka era almost 
everywhere in the book. However, the year indicated as B. S. (before Saka) 
can safely pass for B. C, because the difference of 78 years is negligible where 
dates of very remote antiquity are concerned. Everywhere in this book the 
§aka figure indicates the expired year unless it is specifically stated to be current. 
The planetary positions should be taken as Nirayana or as calculated by the Grdha- 
lagham system unless the word Say ana is specifically used. Words like SQrya- 
Siddhanta, Arya-Siddhanta, and Brahma-Siddhanta used without qualification, 
should be taken to mean the current or later Surya-Siddhanta, the first Arya- 
Siddhanta and the Brahmagupta-Siddhanta respectively. 

It goes without saying that the index is very covenient for the purpose of 
reference. But experience alone can show how difficult it is to prepare an index. 
As it would have a long time to prepare it single handed, I have myself prepared 
only the subject index. Lx preparing the remaining indices I received considerable 
help from the present students of the Poona Training College. But as the work 
has passed thtough many hands and the lists were copied out five times before 
their final printing, some errors of omission and commission may have crept in 
at places ; but no one could help it. It is the practice of our writers to include 
their works on Arithmetic and Algebra among those on astronomy and the prac- 
tice has been adopted in preparing the index ; similarly, the names of almanacs, 
Sanskrit and Marathi works and their authors have been included in the Sanskrit 
list. The letter Ti (denoting Jjfp or footnote) has been left out at places before the 
page numbers in the index. 

It would be difficult for the readers fully to realise what pains were taken to 
procure old works while writing this book, what people were coaxed and cajoled 
aad in what way, how speedily the work of reading was done, and what mental 
and physical strain I had to undergo on the whole, while writing the present work 
and getting it printed. The pleasure of the pursuit was the only true reward of 
these labours. 


The sale of the book is bound to be poor because it is scientififc and of course 
I could not have shouldered the expensive and risky work of printing. But Mr, 
Hari Narayan Gokhale, a proprietor of the Atyabhushan Press, Poona, who is 
my former playmate and a fellow townman undertook the work and completed 
it with success i He has thus obliged me as well as the whole of Maharashtra. 
If he had not been pressing me to get the book printed and continued to press 
me to finish it soon while the printing was in progress, it would never have seen 
the light of the day, for it would never have really reached Completion to my satis- 
faction till the end of my life. Had the whole manuscripts been ready at the 
outset, the publisher would have printed it within two months ; but the publica- 
cation was so long delayed, because my reading went on ceaselessly at the same 
time. The publication of a work of this kind must inevitably take a long time. 
Still, whatever work could be accomplished so far, has been brought to comple- 
tion as far as possible. I shall feel much obliged if any defects found in this work 
.are brought to my notice or suggestions made in regard to its contents. 

I have received help from several people in several ways from the day I started 
writing till this day of publication. Even if I merely mention their names and the 
kind of help offered it would easily cover a page or two ; instead of doing this I 
wish to express my gratitude to all of them most sincerely even though in a general 

It was a convention with the ancient writers on astronomy to give a brief 
^account of themselves. I could write the major portion of the book because of 
this convention. Now I propose to follow suit and give a brief account of myself 
before I conclude the preface ; I was born on Tuesday, the 14th-cum-15th lunar 
day (tithi) of the bright half of Asadha, Saka 1775 (according to Grahalaghava 
Pancanga) i.e. on 20/21 July 1853, at the village of Murud, in Dapoli Taluk, 
District Ratnagiri, my birth ascendant being Gemini. My ancestral line from 
father backwards runs thus ; Balakrishna, Ramaehandra, Ballala and Shankar, 
^nd my mother's name was Durga. I am a Chitpavana Brahmana of Nityundan 
^gotra', HiranyakeSi branch. The original surname of our family was Vaisam- 
payana. This family has inherited the priesthood and religious leadership of the 
village of Murud which was founded by a suint some centuries ago ; our original 
ancestor was his disciple and this vocation was conferred on him by the saint. 
About two years of my childhood were spent in elementary education at the village 
school and later in a local Government Marathi school, from April 1862 to October 
1868. These very years were partly devoted to some study of Sanskrit and reciting 
of the Vedas. Part of the next two years passed in working as a candidate at 
Dapoli Court and a part in learning English. I was a student in the Poona Train- 
ing College for three years from November 1870, when I obtained a first class certi- 
ficate in the final examination of the third year. While studying at the Training 
(SF e ^ e ' * attended an English school one hour every day for two years. In- 
1874 I passed the Matriculation Examination, but I could, not join College owing 
to several difficulties, I worked as the Head Master of the Marathi School at 
Revadanda from February 1874 to February 1880, and later on as Head Master 
of the Marathi School No. 1 at Thana up to August 1882. Afterwards I worked 
as an Assistant teacher at the English school at Barsi till the end of October 1889 
and as an Assistant at the Dhulia Training School till the end of June 1894. Since 
then, I have been working as an Assistant Teacher at the Poona Training College. 
I wrote and published the following Marathi books in the years noted against them : 



(i) Vidyartm Buddki Vardhin! (1876). (ii) Srsta Camatkara (1882). (iii> 
Jyotirvilasa 1892). (iv) Dharma Mimamsa (1895) and the Indian Calendar 
written in collaboration with Sewell has been recently published. I have also 
written a book entitled "Bharatiya Pracina Bhuvarnana" ; but since it is 
not yet complete as it ought to be, it has not yet been* published. That ours is 
not a iamily of Josts, (astronomers or astrologers) is evident from the above 
account My natural aptitude for learning and the habit of reading newspapers 
led me to take interest in the Sayana controversy and eventually to the study 
of astronomy. "Whatever knowledge of these subjects I possess, is wholly self 
acquired. Some people appear to think that I have some knowledge of astron- 
omy that l8 not accessible to others ; but my knowledge is so meagre that any 
intelligent man can acquire so much within six months if he has a fair 
knowledge of Marathi, Sanskrit and English, an aptitude for Mathematics and 
an inquiring mind. Many persons approached me with a request to teach them 
astronomy— it matters little that their enthusiasm was short lived . So vast are 
the treasures of astronomical knowledge, which, for various reasons, lie beyond the 
reach of my power of understanding, that my own knowledge is next to nothing 
in comparison. May Savita (the Sun god) the self existant and stimulator of 
intelligence, inspire all of us to acquire knowledge. 

Poom, Saturday the 31st October, 1896, 
Sayana Amanta Kdrtiha, Krsna 10 

Sankab Balakbishna DlKSHlT' 


A History of Indian Astronomy 
— Ancient and Modern 


If on an autumn or winter night we sit in an open on a 
vast plain outside, we are naturally tempted to gaze at the 
heavens above. Thousands of tiny glowing stars would appear twinkling 
all around in the sky, some of them very small and some large. A closer 
look would then reveal that these shining articles are not stationary 
Some of them would appear to be coming up from below, while some others 
going down on the other side. While we keep continually gazing at them 
some large bright star is suddenly noticed rising on the horizon ■ and 
while we are looking at it in wonder, ail of a sudden, some bright shining 
light at the lowest part of the sky appearing to touch the earth attracts our 
attention. The light gradually brightens in splendour and the stars on that 
side of the sky begin to fade out. 

After a short while, the reddish disc of the moon is seen making 
its appearance which is indeed a most delightful sight of the night As the 
moon slowly rises higher up in the sky, it spreads its most enchanting lieht 

tZ Ltt wv, a nUmber ?£ Star , S fac ? e ° ut one b ^ one in the brilUancy of 
that light. While we are thus feasting our eyes, we may perhaps see a 

So d m d eH m flaSh ° f ^ ^f^ Star m ^ ^pear to drop dow^ from The sky 
Sometimes we may be startled to. see half a*dozen such stars, small or loree 
dropping down from the heavens within a short interval of time. 

th. T } C a huma i m f d J s . n aturally attracted to such normal phenomena and 
the wonders of the sky being far more gorgeous and captivating than those of 

summer, X^MooTi^ofS? ^ "^P CVMyday - The Seasons lik * 
Today, howeveTwe are'™? t Z v ^ S ° nS alS ° FCCUr in their re S ular orde ^ 
of our faSffitri r fhThem™ C fc V* W ° nde • at thCSe P henomena because 
have been overwhelmed J^ ' *, Ut the P nmitlve man at the beginning must 
mena, an~d \hh inl^Z W ° n ? e £ at the re « uIar recurrence of these pheno- 
brigh objects I XpT ?? ♦ ™ USt haVC been drawn to the study of the 
earliest ti£e * Vh s™ ^V° t?* *° *? StUdy ° f ■*""*-* * om ** 
some time it rl^ thlhl^ t hC -^ Tn ^ g l rt ^owly comes up. After 
slowly and the «««?♦? highest point m the heavens, and then goes down 

2 Dgo T y SUn gFadUally l0Se intensity of heat ti!1 Such tineas 

2DGO ' 59 (xxi) 


History of Indian Astronomy 

the sun vanishes. Then follows the darkness which continues for a lone time 
Next day, the sun rises again almost at the same point aVd not in an. direction 
at random. The observer then wonders, "Is it vestenW* «,f« ^ 7,- u L 
risen today or is there a new sun rising everv dav ? WfttS?hl . wl "ch has 
did it dwell at night ? Why does it not rise fn «nv h^^ am f SUn where 
Why are its hot ?ays vary in intensilyT T £1k3^ Wt^ZhV^™ ? 
at the place where the sun rises; then how it i 7thSZ Ln th l honz ° n 

of that very place ? If there be an o^eanl the east and an Zl'n ,*$?* °T 

thoughts and much time must have elamM h*r? naunted by these 

*ould have been finally soTed. The knowled^ o7 huL°J 3™ Pr ° bIem * 
tradition and the experience of the ™«t^A of ^ uman bein S grows by 
posterity. Even in 5S year after v\ar ron^fnT 68 USefUl t0 the 
a new discovery, which mighl ^^^^^^STtTt- """"J 
ts invention it is taken as In established truth *' bUt * ** time of 

mJV* the ? ° bv i°u S ^ hat at J he ^ginning of civilization considerable time 
must have elapsed before the truth about even the most c Zmon nW 
experiences came to be definitely known. common place 

The questions above about the sun as having disturbed th<> nrimi 

of the Vedtc literature are also well known. Althouch thete 2..1T 
today to be fantastic, it is clear that there was "Tie whfn £opl e S 
ohenshed such beliefs. For instance the foUowing verse from ?£ H 

^ "^ h ^ s! y° u draw out the sun (for the purpose of rising up again in 
the morning) which was sunk in the ocean." 8P agam m 

The following mantra from 7<»7tfn>a Brdhmana may similarly be cited : 

' "May the resplendant sun, that comes up from the centre of the expanse 
of water of the vast ocean, purify me." cApanse 

c tc T h X sun ris ? s in *** m ?rning. it reaches the highest point at noon and 
sets in the evening. As if it crosses the whole sky in three strides. This phe- 
nomenon has been described at various places in the Vedic literature. That 
the sun transfers its heat and puts it into Agni (fire) at night is also described 
a many places. ° 1WU 

Introduction xxiii 

"The sun enters Agni in the evening. Hence Agni is visible at night even 
from a distance." 

In this verse the sun is said to be entering Agni at night. The primitive 
man's attention must have been drawn to the moon just as much as to the 
sun or even more. Unlike the sun, the moon does not rise regularly at nieht. 
Sometimes when it rises at sunset the moon appears full in size, and then~ a 
days pass on the moon rises later and later every day and gradually grows 
smaller in size. It also rapidly changes its position among the stars. 

It slowly approaches the sun and a day comes when it becomes complete- 
ly invisible and then after a day or two, the moon makes its "appearance in 
the west after sunset on the other side of the sun; but at that time, it appears 
only in the form of a crescent, as if it were newly born. It is well known 
that on this day even now we find that people joyfully offer her the frills of 
their garments and pray to her for new garments and long life, chanting 
all the while the following Mantra which is found in all the four Vedas. 

'*X *•.«*. U. 

The moon gradually increases in size as days pass and again becomes 
full some day. Many descriptions of the moon's waxing and waning are 
found in ancient and modern works. And what is more, the digits of the 
moon, the dark spots" on her face, her soft and serene appearance and her 
refreshing light, have provided an outstanding theme for poetic imagination 
in all countries at all times. 

The moon becomes full after 29 or 30 days, and it becomes full again 
and again after the same number of days. The primitive man must have 
adopted the day (i.e. a day and night together) as the natural unit of time 
atter observing that the period between two successive sunrises is almost the' 
same. Similarly, after observing the rule about the full moon stated 'above 
ml * 8t . have adopted the period between the consecutive full moons as the 
second but a longer unit of measuring time. This period seems to have 
received the same term as that given to the moon in many languages. In the 
veaic literature, the moon is named as masa. As an example the folio wine 
lines may be seen : — 6 

Rfc Samhita and Atharva Samhita— 

Hqfararfasf tstttt^: i ^ tf \o %* \ a $& 3 *<> 9% *» 

* * ♦ * * • • ^ » • * ~# * + 

Rk Samhita— 

^TfaTOT fiWTST fefa I 3^ tf ?o 4 £^ %\ 

That the name masa originally given to the moon was later applied to th 
above mentioned period is well known. 

xxlv History of Indian Astronomy 

After these two. units, the day and the month, were firmly established 
man must have observed that the rains, winter and summer recur after som& 
definite period of time. It was also observed that the rains and other seasons- 
recur after twelve months, where a 'month' denotes the period indicated by 
the fun-moons -This (long) period of twelve months appears to have been 

lf?L? %LX edaS r Sar f di H emanta etc - after the seasons in the Rk 
Samhita. The term Sarad in the sense of a year, occurs there more than 
twenty times and the term Hima more than ten times. These words are found 
in many piaces in other parts of the Rigveda as well. The very word Varsa 
meaning «a year' also signifies a particular season. * 

"Do live and grow for a hundred autumns (i. e. years), for a hundred 
winters and for a hundred springs."-** Samhita andAtharva Samhita. 

The words Sarad, Hemanta and Vasanta all meaning a year occur together 
in the above verse. Even the ter m Samvatsara is very often found to have 
been used in the sense of a 'year.' 

a „ A ?L^ y th l yC c r J S the ^ natural unit of time > b ut longer than the 
day and the month. So far we have had a glimpse of the origin of the three 
units of time. An attempt to describe in detail the gradual development of 
the basic astronomical concepts would involve a long exposition. This how- 
ever is not necessary at this stage. The main features of this development 
are going to be described in detail later on. 

Just as the observation of the sun and other heavenly bodies creates a 
sense of wonder, even so their regularity and other characteristics strike one 
as most surprising and inspire a feeling of reverence for them. It is but 

S 8 ^ ° ne Sh °" ld b f led / oinfer that these celestial phenomena are- 
controlled by some eternal truth and that the magnitude of that truth is 
simply too great to he described. The following verses from R^veda a ^ 
worthy of note in this context :_ s 

th, "Transcendental truth supports the universe, the sun is supporting 

n the skV " C «?S S r- Fem f "? ?W>rted by truth and so remain thTmoof 
in tne sky. — #k Samhita and Atharva Samhita. 

4 «. *r v ?\ f £ d ? y we h ^ ar m any people remark that all have discarded truth in 
this sinful Kahyuga, but the sun and the moon have not. 

Some celestial phenomena are joyful to watch, some are amazing while 
some others are even frightening. When the eclipses, shooting stars and 

Introduction xxv 

comets inspire a sense of awe and even fear in many a mind even in the 
present times, it is quite obvious that in the beginning these phenomena would 
have been regarded by the human being as extremely frightful and portentous 
of divine wrath. Many of us must have read how Christopher Columbus told 
the inhabitants of an island that because the god Sun was displeased with 
them he would hide himself on a particular day and how those people were 
frightened to see the prediction come true. Again it is a historical fact that 
the war, which had continued for five years between the people of Lydia and 
Media, about the year 584 B.C., came to an end by the mutual signing of a 
peace pact, because a total solar eclipse had occurred during the year and 
, both the fighting parties were struck with horror to see the day suddenly 
turning into night. 

It is also known to many of us that the Mahaoharata gives a description 
of how the two eclipses of the sun and the moon had occurred in the same 
month just before the terrific battle between the Kauravas and Pan4a'vas was 
fought resulting in a tremendous loss of life. Similarly, in the Puranas we 
come across descriptions of shooting stars and meteors and appearances of 
comets preceding such calamities. 

The natural units of reckoning time, i.e., the day, the month and the 
year which guide human activities, depend upon celestial phenomena. The 
knowledge about seasons which is necessary for agriculture depends upon the 
sun. That the rains are caused by the sun and the tides by the moon, and 
that it being felt that the wrath of Almighty is foreshadowed by some particu- 
lar positions of the heavenly bodies, tend to show that curiosity must have 
aroused in human mind towards astronomical knowledge right from the 
creation of the human race. Again, certain ideas must have planted them- 
selves in the human mind from very ancient times ; for instance, it might have 
been thought that since agriculture and other vocations of life are carried on 
when the sun and the moon occupy certain positions in the sky, it is quite 
possible that they would have been thought to prove beneficial when per- 
formed while the luminaries are in a typical position ; as for example, the 
fields may yield a bumper crop if the seed is sown when the moon is conjoined 
with a particular star and on the other hand crops are destroyed if sown when 
it is conjoined with another particular star ; some religious rites if performed 
when the sun turns from south to north or vice versa (that is on solstitial 
days) give beneficial or harmful results as the case may be. If marriages and 
such other rites are performed at certain auspicious moments they turn out to 
be beneficial ; when two planets were observed as passing very close to each 
other in the sky, they came to be interpreted as 'fighting with each other' and 
then one of them (the fainter of the two in luminosity) was regarded as 
navmg been defeated and this fight was supposed to be indicative of victory 
or defeat of a certain king on the earth ; it was also surmised as to what 
particular rites, if performed would nullify the malefic effects indicated by the 
appearance of eclipses, meteors or comets. Furthermore, it was but natural 
tnat ideas and convictions should have gradually begun to crop up in human 
mind that if the heavenly bodies have such a close association with the wordly 
atlairs and their good or evil results, they must be affe ting the individual life 
as well and then the people must have attempted to foretell what benefic or 
malefic effects would be experienced by any individual in his life, because the 
s j m : "? moon and the planets were occupying certain positions in the sky 
at the time of his birth and would be subsequently occupying other positions. 

XXV1 History of Indian Astrwomy 

thrJ^rSJSl ° f TK° W i e n ge ^ ardi ng such matters led to the creation of 
MatL™^ ^ Q The following questions, for instance, are associated with 

th Zt fSt Fmdlng 0U J l he number of days in a month, 
win tH~ w f ,T nths ln a year and the number of da ys ^ a year ; when 
SL W -? S? St ^ e °i lhe . summer ^Istice occur after a particular day ; 
what position in the sky will a particular planet be occupying on a certain 

fe T t n n Mil,? U e , Cllpse * ak ? P Ia ? e > and so on- These questions are 
S^f^J^Sf* 1 ^ ™* kn ™ le ^e of the effects of eclipses, comets, 
planetary conflicts on the world and the knowledge as to what davs are 
auspicious or otherwise for the performance of marriages and other rites^ 
these questions form the second branch ; and the third branch comprises the 
knowledge which enables one to judge the benefic or maleficXc ts that 
^ ?J,1 be Produced by a particular position of planets at birth or later on 
^^ Th6Se ^ ^ to ^ '^Branches* 

is d^tfSS th? e d e K2E. w tl %2£W ^r & £S 

S*Ztonta ^ third "^ ° r JatQka ' The Ga * ita branch^falso knownat 
Narada observes : 

««^ 'w?rf*? !el 'f nt *i? cie ¥ °( astr 'onomy comprising Siddhanta, Samhita 
Sfif^ * r £ e branches ( Secti ons) is the clear 'eye* of the Vedas" 

Mahadeva (S'aka 11 85), the commentator of Sripati's Ratnamala says:— 

mu! 1 u m u desirous of describing in brief, the interpretation of Samhita 

rektmf tf nott^ 5 ^ f ° be f ° U °^ d ' while Perming cerem^n es, 
mISffiL f P i" n al ?*****> namin g the child, thread ceremony 
marriage travelling, etc., knowing fully well that Sarhhitas are 'frunY 

?lL» c w e f ? stTomm y> ?{ which the various forms of Hora are the 

mS&. » £?K t ?s;s^ lllrti0 - algebra and ca,CUIation <* ^ 

onA?*trarM^ in his c — ^ 

"Sri Kesava, having expounded the Ganita branch and Jataka 

branch declares before proceeding to the Samhita branch.'* 

Introduction xxvii 

The attention of our people was drawn to the study of celestial bodies 
from very ancient times ; still considerable time must necessarily elapse 
before any subject can evolve itself into a science. Similarly, a long time 
must have elapsed before the standard works on the subject of astronomy 
could be written, and it is obvious that the works which were written in the 
beginning of the evolution of the subject must have contained simple state- 
ments of facts of an elementary nature and those too of only broad outlines » 
The most ancient of the astronomical works extant in these days is the 
Veddnga Jyoti§a. It deals with the mathematical aspect Of only the sun 
and the moon ; the Atharva Veddnga Jyotifa may be a latter work** This 
deals with some aspects of the second and the third branches of astronomy. 

It seems as if the Samhitds of Garga and Parasara belong 
to a later age. After the knowledge of astronomy had considerably 
developed it must have been grouped into three divisions or branches including 
Ganita. But this stage must have been preceded by certain works in which 
all the branches were discussed together. It appears that works of this 
type did exist and they too were known by the name Samhitd. Varahami- 
hira says in his Bfhat Samhitd : — 

"The science of astronomy which comprises a variety of subjects is 
established mainly on three branches. But the treatment of the subject 
in its entirety is also named Samhitd by , the sages." 

We have no clue for ascertaining whether there were any works more 
ancient than the Veddnga Jyoti$a and the Samhitds of Garga and others* 
None of these are available at present. Nor can we say with any degree of 
certainty whether the Samhitds of Garga and others that are available at 
present, have all retained their original composition and structure. In the 
case of Garga Samhitd some two or ihree versions are available. ^Neverthe- 
less, it is evident that some Samhitd works containing a treatment of all the 
three branches together must have been in existence at one time, as is evident 
from the above quotation from Varahamihira, let alone be the question whether 
such treatment was complete in itself or only fragmentary. As the knowledge 
of astronomy was progressing and as each branch was nearing perfection t 
different works, each devoted to some specific branch, came to be written 
and the term Samhitd was then exclusively applied to one branch in particular. 
Varahamihira' s Pancasiddhdntikd shows that there were independent works 
on the diflFerent branches written before his time (i.e., before Saka year 427). 
Aryabhata's work, which deals exclusively with Gani ta 9 belongs to a slightly 
earlier date than that of Varahamihira. It will, however, be shown in 
detail, in the following pages, that the Ganita branch had become indepen- 
dent at a still earlier date. As for Varahamihira himself, he has to his credit 
independent treatises on all the three branches. 

Let us now enumerate the subjects commonly found in the works on 
each branch. The mathematical branch consists of three sections 

*Many subjects have been mentioned here only very briefly in order to give a 
general idea of later works ; their detailed survey will be made at appropriate places* 

xxviii History of Indian Astronomy 

(i) Siddhanta, (ii) Tantra and (iii) Karana. The Karana works deal with plane- 
tary calculations only. Bhaskaracarya defines Siddhanta as follows : — 

^£trffe>rwf^r^^r*rHsnfc: iwr«rrc$* w^rtf fe^rr* tM sr^repTr *ft^TT: i 

"The wise people describe the Ganita Skandha (i.e. the 
branch of mathematical astronomy) as that work, which gives in detail all 
the units of time from Trufi (moment) to Pralaya (Universal deluge) and deals 
with the motions of planets, and which treats of mathematics in the form 
of questions and answers. It is mainly divided into two parts. It also 
dascribes the position of the earth, the ^ stars, the planets and also the 
instruments for observation."— Siddhanta Siromani, Madhyamddhikdra. 

Siddhanta or Tantra generally consists of two parts, one mainly deals 
with the calculation of planets' places and the other chiefly describes the 
structure of the universe ; and this includes the knowledge of the celestial 
sphere, the construction of instruments, the units of the measurement of 
time and other allied subjects. These two parts are not and cannot remain 
separate, Almost all Siddhantas show as an intermingling of the two. 
' Some people define Siddhanta, Tantra and Karana in the following way :— 

In the Siddhanta work the beginning of the Kalpa is taken to be the 
epoch .; in the Tantra the epoch is the beginning of a Mahdyuga, and in 
the Karana any Saka year can be the epoch, and the calculations of planets' 
places are made on the basis of the respective epochs. As a matter of 
fact there is no difference between them in regard to the computation of 
planetary positions excepting that each adopts a different epoch. The part 
of the work devoted to planetary calculations in all the three varieties 
contains a number of chapters called Adhyaya or Adhikdra. In general, the 
chapters are as follows : — 

1. The mean places of planets. 

2. The true places of planets. 

3. The three problems (time, place and direction). 

4. The lunar eclipse. 

5. The solar eclipse. 

6. The shadow cast by the gnomon. 

7. The rising and setting of planets. 

8. The elevation of the moon's cusp. 

9. The conjunction of the planets. 

10. The conjunction of planets and stars. 

11. The luni-solar parallel. 

It is not the fact that all works contain the same number of chapters 
as above. Although there are variations in the number and order of chapters, 
yet all of them have been included in the above list of eleven chapters. 

Introduction xxix 

There is no unanimity of opinion regarding the subject matter of 
the SMhhitft branch. In general, the Samhita may be regarded as divided 
Into two parts. The first deals with the movement of planets in the 
JZodiac and their mutual conflicts, etc., the consideration of benefic or 
malefic effects of meteors, comets, eclipses and omens on the world. The 
second is devoted to the selection or consideration of auspicious moments 
or otherwise, for starting on a journey, the celebration of a marriage etc. 
Varahamihira's works show that in his time both the branches enjoyed 
■equal importance, but from Sripati's time, that is from Saka 960, the first 
part began to lose its importance and from about Saka 1450, the second 
part gained so much importance that only the chapter on muhurta began 
to pass for the third branch. This can be confirmed from the titles and 
the subject matter of the following works: — Muhurta Tattva, Muhurta 
Martan^a, Muhurta Cintamani, Muhurta Cudama^i, Muhurta Dipaka, 
Muhurta Ganapati and others. The works on Muhurta do contain some of the 
subjects described by Varahamihira in his Brhat Samhita but not with 
any degree of importance. 

The Hord branch originally represented the study of the ascendant of 
hirth in one's horoscope, and the prediction of all the happy and sorrowful 
events of life ; but afterwards it was divided into two parts, the above 
mentioned part being one of them. In the beginning, the complete Hora 
section was known as Jdtaka, but later on this particular part relating to 
the ascendant came to be known as Jdtaka and the second part as T&jik. 
The principal subject of Tajik generally is the study of events, good or 
evil, in any individual life, from the ascendant of the annual horoscope 
which is cast for the moment of his entry into any new year of his age 
reckoned on solar basis. Under this system of horoscope reading, the 
radical ascendant is regarded as a planet and is known by the name Muthahd 
{Muntha?). Some authors have coined the Sanskrit term TSrtlyaka tot Tajik* 
This part of Hord, viz., Tajik came into vogue from about Saka 1200, that is 
by about the time of increasing Muslim domination in our country* 

In the books on astronomy in this couptry, the chapter which generally 
deals with such problems as positions of the sun, the moon, the earth t etc. 
in the universe, the causes of their motions and the nature of such motion 
is known as Bhuvana Samsthd, Jagat Samsthd, Bhuvana Koia or by some 
other equivalent names. These three subjects will be discussed in detail 
later on at the proper place ; but to introduce the subject, the celestial 
sphere, the motions of planets, the movement of the solstitial points, 
and the Yuga system of measuring time are briefly described below. 

BHUVANA SAtitSTHA (The Celestial Sphere) 


According to our astronomical works the earth is at the centre of the 
Universe; the moon and other bodies revolve around it; their order is, the 
Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the starry belt ; 
the Zodiac revolves round the axis joining the two fixed poles. The earth is 
round, it stands supportless and is enveloped by air which is called bhuvdyu or 
earthly-air, Above this is the sky, where blows the wind called pravaha 
by the force of which the moon and other heavenly bodies are kept in 

xxx History of Indian Astronomy 

motion, iand they revolve round the earth. This description is found in all 
Siddhanta works and Tantras, but not in Karana-v/ovks. It is also found in the 
Pahca-Siddhdntikd. In no man-made or written works on astronomy do- 
we find any expression of views more ancient than those found in the Panca- 
Siddhdntika and hence the lines presenting the above ideas are quoted below : 

<r* ft^ret t^tt srsrt^r ^rrR# w<t: ukh 

"The round ball of the earth, composed of the five elements, abides in 
space in the midst of the starry sphere, like a piece of iron suspended between 
magnets. 1. Straight above meru in space one pole is seen; the other pole i& 
seen below, placed in space. Fastened to the poles the sphere of the stars is 
driven round by the pravaha wind. 5. Above the moon there are Mercury, 
Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, and then the stars. 39." 
— Trailokya Samsthdna, Chapter 13. 

The starry belt, along with planets, appears to make one^complete revolu- 
tion round the earth in about one day. But it was only Iryabhata I, who 
held the modern view that this diurnal motion is not real but apparent and is 
caused by the diurnal rotation of the earth; others held that the diurnal mo- 
tion of the starry belt was real and almost all the authors of Siddhantas have 
blamed Aryabhata for holding a divergent view. 

The planets appear to move from west to east with respect to the stars 
and in the science of astronomy this kind of planetary motions have princi- 
pally to be dealt with. The Surya-Siddhanta has explained this eastward mo- 
tion of planets as follows : — 

"The planets being overtaken by the stars moving with greater 
speed in their westward motion, fall behind equal distances in their 
orbits (and hence they get an eastward motion)"— Madhyamadhikara-25. 

In substance, this means that the diurnal motions of planets being less 
than those of the stars, the planets lag behind and hence they appear to move 
eastward with respect to the stars. 

Aryabhata I had already taken it for granted that the diurnal motion of 
the stars was' not real and hence it was not necessary for him to make any 
assumption like the above to explain the eastward motio i of the planets. 
He had already assumed a real eastward motion for them. 

Introduction xxxi 

Another kind of assumption which has been made about the motion of 
planets is that their eastward motions in their orbits are equal. But 
the distances of planets from the earth being unequal, the orbits of 
farther planets are wider than those of the nearer ones; and that is the 
reason why we notice difference in their eastward motions. The moon 
being nearest to the earth has the swiftest motion and Saturn being the 
farthest of all planets, its motion is the slowest. The Panca-Siddhantika 
says : — 

"All planets move towards the east with the sarnie velocity each in its 
own orbit. 39. The moon which is placed (lowest) below the sphere of 
the stars revolves quickly in its small orbit ; Saturn which is placed 
highest above revolves slowly in its large orbit with the same velocity. "— 
Trailokya Samsthana, Chap, 13. 

One complete revolution of a planet in the zodiac is called bhagana- 
It is obvious that the time for one bhagana must have been determined 
after observing the times taken by the planet in making several revolutions^ 
The astro-mathematical works give the number of bhaganas which each 
planet completes in the period of one Kalpa or pne Mahayuga. The motioa 
of a planet as calculated from these periods using the bhaganas mentioned 
by the Panca-Siddhantika must be the same for every day. This is called 
the 'mean motion*. But the motion of a planet as actually seen in the sky 
is not always the same. For instance, Jupiter takes about twelve years^ 
for one revolution and hence its mean daily motion comes to be about 5' ; 
but the actual observation of the planet shows that Jupiter sometimes 
moves faster than that and sometimes slower ; its daily motion is some- 
times found to be as much as 15' and sometimes it is slower than even l'l 
not only this but sometimes the planet also appears even to.moveina 
reverse direction i. e. from east to west (this is called retrograde motion),. 
The planet's daily motion as is actually seen is termed 'true or apparent* 
motion ; similary the planet is actualy found to be somewhat ahead of or 
behind the position calculated from its mean motion- The real position 
of a planet is called its 'true place' and that found by adopting the mean 
motion is called its 'mean place*. 

To find the true place of a planet at a given moment, which in other 
words is to find where the planet will be observable in the sky at a 
particular time, is the main subject of the mathematical branch of astronomy,. 

xxxii History of Indian Astronomy 


(The shifting of the solstitial points) 

The period that elapses between two successive 'conjunctions' of the 
■sun with a particular star is termed Ndksatra saura varsa or 'Sidereal Solar 
year'. The two points of intersection of the ecliptic and the equator are 
called Sampata or Krdntipata ( i.e. equinoxes). The equinox from which the 
sun enters into the northern side of the equator and which marks the spring 
season is known as Mesa or Vasanta Sampata, that is, the vernal equinox. 

Let us suppose that at some time there is a star coinciding with this 
equinoctial point and that when the sun comes to that point the year 
commences. The equinox has got a motion, and it recedes back at the rate 
of 50" per year. On account of this, the stellar zodiac appears to be 
moving to the east by an equal arc. The time taken by the sun to return 
to the same equinox is termed as Sdmpdtik Saura {i.e., tropical) year. This 
is also called the drtava (seasonal), and the sdyana year. When the sun 
would return to the same equinox it would, as it were, find the above- 
mentioned fixed star still 50" ahead, and it would require about 50 palas 
(twenty minutes) more to arrive at the star. Hence, the sidereal year is 
•found to be longer than the tropical year by about 50 palas. The seasons 
depend upon the tropical year. If there is a particular season when the 
sun comes to an equinox, the same season would recur every time the 
sun returns to the same equinox again ; on the other hand, it is evident 
that the same season would not be found recurring at every conjunction 
of the sun with a star. If one point of the orbit shifts its position every 
other point also does so. As the equinoctial point recedes-, the solstitial 
points also fall back ; hence if the winter solstice is found to occur when 
the sun is near a particular star, the future solstitial transits will be found 
occurring gradually further westward from that star. The motion of the 
solstitial points which is the same as that of the equinoctial points was 
first detected from the westward position of the sun with respect to stars 
at the time of successive solstices. Hence, this motion is termed as Ayana 
■Calana or the shifting of the solstitial points. 


The measure (length) of the Kaliyuga is 4,32,000 years. Those of 
Dvdpara, Tretd and Krta are respectively twice, thrice and four times of 
this. These four yugas constitute the Mahayuga and its measure is ten 
times that of the Kaliyuga and is equal to 43,20,000 years. One thousand 
such Mahdyugas make one Kalpa, which is known as Brahma's day. The 
Kalpa contains 14 Manus. So far, a period equal to 6 Manus and 27 Maha- 
yugas has elapsed from the commencement of the Kalpa up to the pre- 
sent i.e. the 28th Mahayuga ; and after passing through Krta, Treta and 
Dvapara of the current Mahlyuga,we are now passing through the Kaliyuga. 

Introduction xxxHS 

71 Mahiyttgas make one Manu and a period equivalent to a Kftayug* 
known as 'Manu-sandhi ' (i.e., the transition period between two Mams) 
is reckoned in the beginning of each Manu period. This means that a 
period equal to 4567 Kaliyugas have clasped from the commencement of 
Brahma's day up to the present Kaliyuga. All Siddhantas with the exception 
of that of Aryabhata agree on these points, although they hold somewhat 
different views on other matters. 

According to the modern Surya-Siddhanta and Aryabhata I, all the 
seven planets including the sun and the moon were together in the beginning 
ol the present Kaliyuga. In other words, the mean longitude of each of 
these bodies was zero ; but according to Brahmagupta and Aryabhata II all 
the planets had such a general conjunction only at the commencement of the 
Kalpa, and not at that of the present Kaliyuga when they were situated within 
a range of 3 to 4 degrees from one another. There is yet another divergent 
view which will be explained later on. e 

This book relates the history of the study of the positions and motions of 
heavenly bodies and that of the development of the various aspects of astrono- 
mical knowledge in our country. The ancient name of our country is Bharata 
Varsa, Bharata Khanda, or Bharata. Because this book contains the history 
of astronomical science in our country, it is titled "Bharatiya Jyotisa Sastra— 
(its) Ancient and Modern History". 

Samhita and Jataka, the two branches of astronomy, depend upon the 
motions of planets and stars. The chief aim of our astronomy is the 
prediction of actual planetary positions, that is foretelling what place in 
the sky a particular planet would be occupying at a particular time It* 
comphcatedness is inherent. An accurate knowledge of the mean motions 
and positions of planets emanates from an accurate knowledge of their 
true positions and motions. Even before they acquired the capacity to predict 
accurately their apparent positions, the ancients did possess a tolerably accu- 
rate knowledge of planets' mean motions and positions. This was the preli- 
minary stage. The Siddhdntas and other available astronomical works deal 
with the calculations of true positions and motions of planets. A considerable 
period of time must, however, have elapsed before man's knowledge of 
astronomy reached that stage. 

The history of astronomy has, therefore, been divided into two maior 
divisions, viz (i) the Siddhantic period and (ii) the pre-Siddhantic period, and 
accordingly this book has been divided into two parts. < Part One ' gives the 
history of how the people in pre-Siddhantic age had taken increasing 
interest in astronomy how the relevant knowledge had grown, and how it 
reached the stage of foretelling the true places of planets, this history being 
traced trom the casual astronomical references found in the Vedas, Vedaiigas 
bmrtis and the Mahabharata, and the subsequent history up to the present 
time is given in 'Part Two'. The pre-Siddhantic period and consequently 
o«?A?f». £ S ? g ? m been sub " d ivided into two sections : (i) the Vedic period 
and (ii) the Vedanga period. The first section deals with the history of astro, 
nomy collected from references found in the Vedic Samhitas, Brahmanic works 
and some Upanisads. The second section deals with the history of astronomy 
gleaned from the Vedaiigas, the Smrti works and the Mahabharata. The 

xxxiv History of Indian Astronomy 

Vedangas contain two works whose whole subject matter is astronomy. These, 
however, deal with the mean motions and positions of planets and they are 
more ancient than the Siddhanta works, and that is why their study is given a 
place in Part One. A discussion of the limits of the periods to be assigned to 
the Vedic, the Vedaiiga and the Jyotisa-Siddhanta ages is given at the end of 
the part. Tart Two' is devoted to the history of the three branches of 

The history of mathematical astronomy in this part has been presented in 
the order of adhikara or chapters, as already mentioned, viz., the mean 
motions, true motions, etc. A description of the celestial sphere, the system 
of observation, the precession of solstices, etc., have been given in the same 
part. In the treatment of these subjects references to several works and 
authors are required to be quoted, and without their knowledge some difficulty 
is likely to be experienced in rightly appreciating the discussion. Hence a 
detailed history of astronomical works and their authors is given in the 
chapter on the mean motions of planets in the beginning of 'Part Two' and 
a discussion of the mean places and motions of planets will be found in 
the same chapter. The chapter on the 'true motions' is devoted to the 
study of true positions, motions of planets and a detailed description of the 
five parts of the Pancdnga (almanac) and that of different Paftcangas 
current in different provinces of our country. 

An adequate idea regarding the subjects and the order in which they 
are dealt with in the two parts may be obtained from the table of contents. 



Section I 
The Vedic Pertod 

Let us consider what subjects relating to astronomy are found in the Ved-s 
and in what manner they have been treated. It need not be explained that the 
Vedas are not essentially a literature solely devoted to astronomy, and it is 
therefore, obvious that no astronomical information would have deliberatelv 
been presented through them. Hence, all that one can do is to draw certain 
general inferences from the astronomical ideas occurring incidentally among 
other things, and where such inferences cannot be drawn in the absence of 
sufficient material of a consistent nature, to make a bare statement of strav 
ideas that may have been elicited. * 

Even a cursory glance at the Vedas will at once show that our ancient 
ancestors had a great liking for the observation of natural phenomena narti- 
cularly the wonders of the sky. If one looks into any of the Vedas or even 
any part or any chapter thereof, it would not generally happen that one does 
not come across some passages describing the sky, the moon and the sun the 
dawn and the sun beams, the stars and asterisms, the seasons and months 
the day and night or the wind and clouds. The description itself i s en- 
chanting, life-like, beautiful, amazing and awe-inspiring The author 
refrains from giving specimens of such descriptions for that would be a Hia 
ression needlessly leading us far afield. «.«*«- 


Let us now see what description do we find in the Vedas about the 
"creation of the world" and the "structure of the universe". 

w^wfcrtdrcr **k fsneror ii ^^f <jai' vmwn: tram irii . V 
wtf *n stsr^t: *r*5rT*m n &&xi aromfcr srsxTmwFt 11311 
T*r *m*tit *p smrr anrrtr 11 arfftftft *m*t wrfsfa: trf* im 
srfefii?* srfro *sm #i^ii3f **t siMmftr **r si^rim i W r 

"(1 and 2) We describe the births of gods in plain words-the (assemblv 

tt l!tt^7Z thOUSh IT V! a former ™* seesVe reciter " n 
the latter part of the yuga, while iastras were sung (in sacrifices) like the 1 
Karmar Brahmanaspati created the gods. The sat (real) was created from 
asm (non-existent) in the first half of the divine yuga. ' 

(3) The sat was created from asat in the first divine yuej&then the 
directions came into existence and then the uttana-pada followed^ 

* rt a^Ii The U " d ? a -P ada gave birth to the earth, which in its turn gave birth 
to diretions. Daksa was born of Aditi. Aditi was born from Daksa 

2 History of Indian AsteonoMy 

(5) Oh Dak$a ! The praiseworthy and immortal gods were born after 

your daughter Aditi" jRk Samhita, X, 72. 

This means, in a general way, that some kind of Being or Existence 
arose first, then came into existence the directions and then the earth. 
The following lines from the Rk Samhitd may be seen ;— 

"(1) Truth (of thought) and truthfulness (of speech) were born of ardour 
penance, thence was night generated, thence also the watery ocean. 

(2) From the watery ocean was the year afterwards produced/ ordain* 
ing nights and days, the ruler of every moment. 

(3) Dhatri in the beginning created the sun and the moon, the heaven, 
the earth, the firmament and the happy (sky)". 

These mantras occur in other Vedas also. The following description is 
given in a passage in Taittirlya Brahmana :— 

The quotation describes that there was water in the beginning and that 
the earth was created thereafter. The Taittirlya Samhita also gives similar 
account of the 'creation' in the following lines; — 

anq> «n ***rosfa*t*mfa zftm srorofagftpfoT ^a f*n*ro*Tri unit *^ts- 

According to this, water, air, and the earth, is the order of creation. The 
following passage from one of the Upanisads shows a more systematic treat- 
ment of the subject of creation. 

"From this Soul (Atmari), verily, space (akaia) arose ; from space, wind 
(yiyu) ; from wind, fire ; from fire, water ; from water, the earth ; from the 
earth, herbs ; from herbs, food ; from food, semen ; from semen, the person 
(purusa)."—Taittmya Upanifad,-2J Brahma Valli. 

The Vedic Period 3- 

A description of the creation of the universe is found in several places. 
We come across a curious statement made by Taittiriya Brahmana that al- 
though the Vedas do describe the creation of the world and the order, no one 
can state the actual cause of creation, for no one knows it. 

sn*fam?T mm at*? n <tctof* ?r q?;: faNr ?im n <nr smfttwn *js*tf sr^f n 

^nrTOmfau *toH<i: sm*njm^nTO> *sj*rofcni farf^i, ^sRfNr 
mti TOtax ii ftK&fcft faro* tf5*rc*f ii 3wf^Rt#^qfr^rfy^?r u *rrtar 
*tcr *tf^msr amr* it *tot srocmmfa: qr^m n 

?T. ?TT. ^. S. £. 

It says that after the deluge submerged the first universe, and prioi t© 
the creation of the next one, there existed neither the 'Real' nor the 'Unreal' 
There was neither sky nor water, neither death nor immortality, neither the 
sun nor the moon to illuminate the day and the night. There was only one 
all-pervading Brahma. It then dftsired to create and the Universe was created 
and so on. It then goes on to say : 

«& 3T5T a* * *g sr^r ii ^ srrsmn jar rt.ft^fe n smf»^T *m fro*- 

smffcr ii to> wrarcfasft fTOHtf: II 

ST. ST. ^. s. £. 
,,'S 9 rea " y kn « ws whence and how this Universe was created ? Or who 

world twLcr^t ygf S ? eT& h0 l n \ atGI > who ta Him fr °^ whom the 
2Sh ™ ^ j 7 ^f h0 knows the ti:ee ' from wnicl i the heaven and the 

S£ PerhaL nn S ^'.who d we" s in the 'Supreme ether', who knows 
tms. Perhaps no one knows if even He knows this or not." 

causiif^at^nV^f ° T ?- Passage im ? lies that because no one ^ows the 
At one place in the Rigveda a sage remarks as follows :- 

Tm\ m. sf^f gtr^n yn <^ ^ ^^ (| ^ ^ T ^ MHd , rM ^ 

all Sj^^\ i SSfr , »!T?A- ^fe neyI Samhita (17-20). Similar e 
occurs in (10-31) 8 W ,n * k Samhlt * (10-129). The 'Kim Swidvanam' mantra 


4 History of Indian Astronomy 

tart and) other gods dwell there. If there be one who has known this, let 
him come here and relate it to us." 

The object of the sage is to state that there can be no one who actually 
know* this. 

Even then it seems that even in the Vedic age, people had a fair knowledge 
of the structure of the world and at least that of the configuration of 
the earth. 


In many places, where a reference is to be made to the world, terms like 
Rodasi, Dyavdpfthivl or their equivalents, denoting a combination of the 
heaven and the earth have been used, which in turn shows that the world was 
supposed to be divided into heaven and earth as its two parts. In some places 
the heavens are described as being three in number. Three heavens have 
been indicated at several places in the Rigveda. In some places the heaven is 
described as the highest part of the sky or the surface of the sky. But in 
many other places the Universe is supposed to be divided into Dyu (sky), 
Antarik§a (space) and PfthM (earth) as the three parts ; of these, the antarlksa 
lies in an intermediate position between the heaven and the earth and is the 
abode of the winds, clouds and lightning and the birds fly in it. These three 
parts are described in clear words in the following well-known lines of the 
Purusa-Sukta ; — 

and corresponding to their high and low positions they are believed to have 
been created respectively from the head, the navel, and the feet of the 
'Supreme Being'. 

The following verges may further be noted : — 

m qfaaff amroregv: <rem* sr$fa?rf sttwitcT u 

"Oh people ! He is the same god Indra who kept the shaking earth 

in firm position who adjusted the expansive space and who 

supported the heaven." # 

fasff arfssRT firanfr WIT f*: qifanfa f**3rl*wr: II 

"Oh Asvins ! May you give us heavenly medicines thrice from heavens, 
thrice from the earth and thrice from space." 

The interpretation of the word Adbhyah in the original text is "from the 
place where water-laden clouds dwell", meaning the sky (antarikfa) ; many 
proofs could be given in support of this interpretation and therefore it is 
clear that the word antariksa stands for that space in which water-laden clouds, 

3£. 4- ?. ?£. 3. 

Thb Vedic Period 

"Oh Agni (fire), please come here along with all those Mantis (gods) wh 
dwell in the expansive space", ; 

These lines show that the space is the abode of 'Maruts' i.e. wind. 

$n at «fatapfeifriR qemt n s£. tf. \, ^. \$, 

neaning "(Varuna) who knows the path of the birds flying through the aoace' 
shows that 'antariksa' is the space in which the birds fly. 

It is clear from the following lines from Aitareya Brahmana (11-6) tha 
'antariksd: is that space which lies between the heavens and the earth. 

?ft^rfT« srftrfeatafar *$*m\ w q. wt. \\. \, 

That the sun is moving through the highest region of the heavens is describee 
in many places. The following lines may be seen for this :— 

'<Oh Sun-god with agreeable lustre ! Cure the disease of my heart aftei 
ascending the highest point in the heavens."— #t Samhita. 

The idea that the sun shines at a very great distance from the earth can-b* 
seen from some of the following lines :— 

omfrT: qfw HWWzi *$ ^jn: wwc ^^ m ^ ^^ ft^ ***** im 

*mtzfr$* stf a xwwz ft* &&*& ^ T wtf fsm ig*m xmmmivtq *wm* 
m\ ^TT to^w* a*R*m n ^ ^ ^ K ^." 

''Agni (fire) had to stand in a lower position before wind and 
space on account of the earth. The wind stooped low before the Sim and the 
sky on account of space. Similarly, the sun had to stand low in position 
on account of the moon and the stars ; and the moon had to 'bend low' before 
Varuria (god of rams) on account of sUunT-Taittirfya Samhita. 

The description appears to imply that the fire rests on earth, the wind takes 
snelter in space, the sun traverses the ^ky and the moon moves* through the 
zodiac. It appears from this that the moon was supposed to occupy a higher 
position than that of the sun. 

?Ws*5romr ii BHcTtareTTtfa ii srfaritarawTtfa u er<m: srf^sT n *csrifcnm: u 

^WfW^fTO H^cfll f*5TO *?T? f*5TO 5mfqr<TT|| ?fr^TW *W%*- 

ifazn v*wtoi*mm*% u *ai ?^ff^n*«mfte n ?nffis «it*f«nfif ?brcr: 

SfcTOT IT Wlfa...t| ?Nt% stf* M li *ym Srfa*5T... || fl^ftfe #*% $**: \t 

an* nfiroit... ii 8ri^T% «rf«T5nt f^ii's^W* Wbwt 11 ... n 

* SiX a n?!fSi°iV°f ij l 8 th i s ' h ave bee " given with the necessary change i n the gender 

ffi%l?i£££&$ZEt T + and Samudra < Sea)etc - in thc ori ^- 

° History of Indian Astronomy 

*mt wft rum ii snfew aftr«n U...M wfaffi, ftf* fito u wm: 
*»<wst II...U *ro aranfaq far. u ^srarori nfinw 11...11 TOsifnr ft *anr« 

^&t: ** «*«n: ftwi : 1 1 *nsT*t sfa*s? nwmr 1 1 n 

•roft 11 «fflfe *sffir *s*rfa *mffir 11 *rot «n*PT?r 11 ^ Wfenfen: M ... N 

The word loka occurring in the first three lines of the above oassaee* refer* 
to the Universe. It praises Him with the words "Thou arUhe worfd thou 
the heaven ; thou art Unending, Infinite, Eternal andlnSS^We* ul 

the relation indicatedis cause and effeS ; °L S^heCtainer an^nfc^' 
tamed, and in some others, the part and the whole. It, however embodies Z 
it the sequence mentioned here before wherein the heavens aria Sn vf t £ 
and space above the earth, and also the ide^' that fe^STsSSSf SS 

The above discussion in short shows that the earth soace and the sVv 
used to be regarded as the divisions of the Universe A dSe statement 

was probXirth7fLt th^nn ^ c OCCUp ^u g i a P°. siti °n higher than the sun 

appears to be m^^^^^^i^f ° f lts s ™ ft motion, it 
to believe that becausHh^s arl Tre IHriS\mT b * naturaI for the P** 
moves in their rerion th? m ^„ *, 1 g u" J* p ^ the sun and the moon 

* ^ ffit ^ * « ** "SP^ ft* 3 aw <taft tt ?. ,.,, , ? 

f " SfiS'SK'aiSy A,"^ Si «*« !«■•" .hi, However, ft. 
night" occV foUher^me „SSVfc e momI !: the Mf-montii, a "darand 

occur ~*&Stti&&tt£Z£'tiE2L*<> "^ 

The Yedic Period 7 > 


Sayanacarya, while commenting on the above verse, observes ■ 
"Y&tka pakse tvapa iti antajiksanama. Yavhatirapo mahadantariksam 
tarantam brkam candramasam . " ' 

.-Z hiS i ShC T *£** accordin S }° Yaska and consequently according to Sayana - 
carya also, the lines suggest that the moon is lower in position than the sun, 
because it moves m the space (sky). The moon is called a 'bird* that is one 
who raverses the space, in the first verse of this Sukta and this lends L ac- 
tional support to the view. 


UnS C fo . llowin g lin< f, s ex P re ss the idea that the earth as compared with the 
Un 1V erse is very small and the Universe is very expansive. 

sfsrfN* ^f«nft ^f^ftr firen cth^?t $*&: 1 1 

3T5n^ ^ *TEr«R f^fr *T$> SITO* 5RRTT S^TT W II 

«Ve '£2i ?n d Indra ! } II ^ earth were to ma S nif y itself to ten times its 
of vnf,r A° men ?T ld ! lve for eternitv > then and then only the glory 
Sarhhita U * * Val ° Ur W ° Uld be ea - ualled b y the heaven?'—^ 

mJ!?« JS? ^ ' t6 ?- timeS i *? only svmbolic - » would be taken to mean 
isto, i ;^ c ; + w?u° bject of the sa « e in giving this description in the Verse 
in ™££f? £ t h X P™ wes * of Indra is very great and it can equal the heaven 
is 5S ™ B tf- the Ufe 0f man wh0 Ascribes it is very short and the earth 
dwell?™ L S T m S1Ze v If the earth were to «t°w to a bigger size and if men 
ttffifnS 1 -ii WCre l 2 Uve t0 eternity > the P rowess of Tndra ™ 11 bejnuch ex- 
is tht tot Z ^Pread over^ the infinite unfverse. What we have to observe 
stated in T this^erL averse is infinitely greater than the earth is clearly 

oas^S* J!^ UniverSe A infinite has been described in several places. The 
Spkofthi y q Taittiriya Sarhhita (3.11.1) maybe seen as an 


by S 6 siin IOWing UneS may be seen as a P roof that all worlds are supported 

"Seven horses are harnessed to that one-wheeled chariot ; but only one 
«a F S bea ™S . sa P ta " 0- e - sev en) names draws it. The wheel has three hubs or 
navels and it is eternal and unhindered, and all worlds stand supported by it 
i.i.e. cnanot) . — Rk Sarhhita. 

Although the word 'sun' does not occur in the verse it undoubtedly relates 
o the sun. 

• History of Indian Astronomy 

**T* ^^rsrr fm*a s^rof ^aron ^% ,, 
^ **L **&**& afaraHTffcn *«rtr ftsm n 

alwZ h Lps^voW traverses Tt ° h nl .y <T P^h and which is indestructible 

A^S?«St^-^i 'SJSSl the sun s ^ keeps on revolvin * 

f*T8ft 3RR *!**% JTSTRT i^> ?RTT <Tf*m>R Sf || 

the^n (S and ( S^^? 11 ° f e f, h ° ne) impireS him " Mit ™ »BP°* 
Samhm Mltm SCeS the men and the S0ds.»-Taittiriya 

Man^™^^ Cerent form. 

seasons ^^ ^ Can be dted t0 show that the sun is the cause of the 

-^■^■S^ the earthly directions one by one and c « «- 

Many other quotations could be given to show that the seasons are cre*t*A 
by the sun, but they are not given here for want of space Readers wiSro^f 
across somelmesin the study of seasons which forms p^rTof 2?XMS 


from the S^ref ly reSP ° mible fm *° hl °™* of ™ ds ^ be seen 
SfacTIT **f?T SSTfacTR 1*fa cf^n|fTT?T: *1?an& *Jw>S TOR: 

tos HforsraRTt ^ torero n 

<?. 9TT. ^ \3. 
w^ri 1 ? 6 H ° tS) r , ecites the T #>*» mantras m honour of the sun The wind 

ass ^yg^is^^ftz? — - ss 
^ «^^r^£s,? rf v a; sua % s?a 

/n 1 x7/ eV °i Ve ? und him ' but there is no doubt that we do find the' ide* 
"^ r Ve ^ that the sun is the support of the universe in as m^ch as the 4a 

heat and r^r * ^ and tbat *" ** WOrlds dc ? end u P on him for 1^ 

The Vedic Period 9 


We, no doubt, come across a description of the sun's chariot as having 
seven* horses. However, statements are by no means wanting in Vedic litera- 
ture which go to show that it is all metaphorical and that the sun has neither 
a chariot nor any horses. 

"The sun born without horses swiftfy jumps high up in the skv :»» 

— Rk Samhita. 


The following verse from Rk Samhita will show that there is only one 
sun and not two, twelve, or many in number. 

faiWT ST^TrT: II q&ffcT J&fai fasnfa ,, 

"Only one sun is the lord of the universe, one dawn gives light to the 
universe". © © 

It is worth noting that in the above lines, the dawn is said to be only one. 
The dawn is the twilight before sunrise. At many places in the Vedas, we 
come across the curious description of there being many dawns, because a 
dawn is observed every day before sunrise, but the fact was no doubt known 
that just as there is only one sun, so there is only one dawn permanently asso- 
ciated with him. 



"He (i.e. the sun) neither sets nor rises. What is believed to be his set is 
{as a matter of fact) his turning himself round at the end of the day. He 
makes night on this side and day on the other. Similarly, what is taken to be 
nis rise in the morning is (as a matter of fact) his turning himself round at the 

* Commenting on "Amiye Saptaras mayah", Sri Shanker Pandurang Pandit, the 
eauor of Vedartha Yatna, writes (on page 683, Vol. II, of the issue for April 1878), "that 
the sun has seven rays is stated here in Rk 8-72-16 in clear words. From this it appears 
that the modern theory of the sun's rays consist of seven colours was not unknown to the 
Aryans in ancient times". 

10 History of Indian Astronomy 

end of the night, when he makes this day on this side and the night on the 
other side. In fact he (the sun) never sets.*"— Aitweya Brdhmaria* 

The knowledge of the earth being round in shape and being suspended in 
space and separated from the sky, is clearly perceived through the above men- 
tioned allusions from the Brdhmanas. Even in Gopatha-Brahmaf}a (9-10) of 
the Atharva Veda, we come across lines almost similar in meaning. 

It seems that it was known to the people even in the Rigvedic age that 
tfee earth is round and stands supportless. 
The following verse may be seen 

^WJIW: «TT^ "TfaaJT f^WT *f*PTT SHTTTm: II 

"The messengers (of periphery of the earth), who are shining with golden 
ornaments were unable to vanquish Indra, even when they were flying round 
the earth's periphery and running with great speed. He then covered** them 
with sun's light." — RkSamhita. 

If the earth were flat, the sun's rays, immediately after sunrise, would have 
fallen at one and the same time on the whole earth, or at least on half of its 
surface; but references show that the rays instead of falling at once, do so one 
after the other. The following verse may be seen : — 

aron Tsrffa fesmfa <nfw s^rtf tw: f^# **nr spf*r it 

'The brilliant sun filled with light the regions of the heaven, the space and 
the earth." — Rk Samhita. 

The sun is rising and stretching out its arms, putting the world to sleep by 
turns and awakening it by turns by means of its lusture. 

The mantra "the sun rises causing a gradual sleep and a gradual awake 
ning" may be taken to mean that as the sun traverses the sky, there is nighr 
fall in some parts of the world which are thus enveloped in darkness; and 
because it gradually throws light on some other parts, there is day time there. 
This betokens a knowledge of the roundness of the earth.f 

Any such references in the Vedas as to show the earth as having been divided 
into Meru-mountain, Jambudvlpa and other seven islands can not perhaps 
be found. 

* The speaker is observing this with respect to his own place. The words "this side" 
refe*- to the side on which he stands with respect to the sun. By the words "turns himself 
round" he means to say that the sun, after moving in one direction till evening, changes his 
direction after dawn after sunset. 

♦♦Commenting on this verse, Shri Shanker Pandurang Pandit the editor of Vedarth- 
Yatna, observes (Vedarth Yatna, Page 380, Vol. I), that "The words "Parmaham chakra- 
nasha" clearly show that our Aryan ancestors, at the time of composing these verses 
doubtless knew that the earth is not flat but round spherical in shape". 

t It is clear that the Satbhitas of all th« Vedas, the Brahmaoa works and the Upani- 
aa ds were not compiled in the same age. It is very difficult to assign limits to their times 
$aas wcic w v v (contd. to next page \ 

The Vedic Period H 

So far we have considered as to what is found in the Vedas about the crea- 
tion of the world and the structure of the universe. Let us now see what do 
we find about the units of time like the year, the month etc., the positions* and 
motions of the sun and the moon, the stars, eclipses, planets, etc. 

The Kalpa.— Let us first consider the 'time-units'. The term Kaba 
used as one of the time units in the astronomical works of post- Vedic period 
not only does not find a place in the Vedas, but also the word Kalpa is not 
tound having anywhere been used in the Vedas in the sense of some kind of 

„ a The 1 YuGA --- The wor <i Yuga has occurred in several places in"the 
Vedas, where it denotes some unit of time. As it would be convenient to 
c onsider this subject properly, all those references which contain the word 
Yuga or the names of any of the four KrtadiYugas are given below. 

a^ra m*$m ^»TTf?T tfafaj *rcprT * m f^a; n 

"Maghava (Indra) adopted the same famous name for the Stotas 
in this hwnanyuga, which the very mighty Indra had adopted when he mar- 
ched with the thunderbolt m his hand to kill Dasyu*"—Fik Samhita. 

Sayanacarya observes that the word yuga has to be taken to mean the 
tour Krtadi yugas. 

fo# * m**T *nir irif?T *?* for: u 
***** Ttf^T **n »r^TT5Ttf?r ftw u 

"Oh Asvins ! you revolve round the worlds with the second 

wheel of your chariot."-M Samhita. . . 

^HcHTT TTR&ft SHncfa 55W ^ II 

Sf&T^TW&^f ^i^ 6 ! 1 "^.^) The Samhita age, (ii) The Brahmanic age 
ShSS- ^P^ 1?a 4 a 8 e and their sub-divisions would be too many to mention instead 
of dividing the time into several parts for the sake of drawing a few conclusions ° reSdSS 
afefSr 1031 ^owledge of that period, it is convenient to l^ve it to Jhe ?eadSS 

and thaT s Y SfiTWS"* f WO,to f ^ m Y 1 *? thoSe Vedic referenceS h ™ <**" SkS? 
needll« to Lv I^ +t heS fi> -t ferenCe f m the Vedic P eriod havs been included. It is 
needless to say -that the 'Brahmanas' are more ancient than the 'UDanisads* and the 
'Samhitas' and specially the BJc Samhita are jhe most ancient. Upani5aas ' and tbe 

nnth^l h^ tin8 }A e A V t di< L ? ant « s the a "thor has strictly adhered to the original and 
nothing has been added which does not exist in tn e original text. 

2 History of Indian Astronomy 

the'laf£ter W r?n ^i°? ° f Ma ?S?' ^ avin8 S rown old * the 10th yuga, became 

2J^K) W^ «ffif } of the Karma (action) ***-* t0 

. Sayana, in his commentary on the above verse savs that nTnrWama 

wiSAf l; s ^ r io w«^^rf2Sss; 

Suf,.S t tta ™™ 0,d a S e - He does not state n clear words what a <vuea S 

£ffi ££sz ss-k-s, *-— ** «■*. sug ^ a s t ffit 

of m?L G t^hi ftf r ( 3f ni) I ^ ric ^ S and success to us wh0 ° ffe * °ew words 
01 praise to thee for the sake of sacrifices in each yuga".-itt Sarhhita. 

*&■ tf.v *<>♦ £*». ?. 
"The herbs which created by Gods in three yugas before"-** Samhitd. 

Triluzl TaseithSTh^h 0n the ^ ^ S ^ anac ^ya interpreted the word 

Vasama S£ £ * S y - Ug f *f '* ^ and ^ fl ™ or the thr ^ seasons 
j-aya«/a Opnng), Varsa (Rams) and Samtf (Autumn). 

• The same mantra occurs even in Taittiriya Samhita in the form- 

an^iuih -3i, yaj ^ aneyl Sainhita tne sa me mantra is found in the following form, 

seasots 1nrini he ? ommentator ha * interpreted the word 'Yuga' as the thS 
seasons— spring, rains and autumn :— 

ing^inf!- 1106 10 thC W ° rd ' Yuga> is made " v ^ 8Mn ^ Sarflhita in «« fol iow- 

so^unitof^jfrt 11068 th %™> Td y»8<ites undoubtedly been used to denote 
thf wZ ic ' bu f ?°? of them c,earl y indicates the number of years which 

r a ^l ! supposed to denote. In the Vedanga Jyotisa, a yuga issupposed to 
definZvl P d -^ lt cannot > however, be said for certain that the word is 
c^rta r, tLt , d ^ e same / e ™ Q as m the above lines, nor can it be said for 
Vara llrtif * H °! S ° T^ ? r !t wil1 * seen later on «»t the names .S^ina/- 

obtetrf + q H UOtat i? n " Dir Sh ata ma became old in the tenth yuga" it is not the 
that hefnf? 77 ter t0 P ° mt ° ut SOme infirmit y of D^ghatama. It is clear 
urita nf T •? eXp ^ SS S °? e s P eclallt y a bout him; and if it be taken to mean 
reeardpH £*? W °, Uld °5 ^ 0ther hand show his infirmity, as he would be 
thattwi° i a rr attamed ? ld age , at fift y- Therefore, instead of assuming 
mimSr S fe Wa l a J thousand y^s, if it be assumed as of some limited 

at S S y ^ a !?' S y a hundred years, the term yuga has to be taken to mean 
at least a period ol ten years. From this and from the Rigveda quotation "We 

f unit of U t!mf r ^ S CVe l y WflM » 5 appears that the W must nave been 
a unit of time smaller than the span of human life, that is smaller than 100 

The Vedic Period 13 

years. It cannot, however, be said that the idea of a yuga representing a much 
longer period of time, never existed. The remarks "It so happened before in 
the divine age", "the human, ages of the present time" cannot emanate from a 
speaker unless he has in his mind that a, yuga does indicate an abnormally long 
period of time. 

It must be said that the word yuga had no standard meaning and conse- 
quently it has to be believed that even in the Vedic times it must have had its 
meaning in the general astronomical sense of a "period of time after which 
a phenomenon occurring once repeats itself in the same order". The eclipses 
ofthesunand the moon which occur in some order or at certain intervals 
during a period of eighteen years, recur in the same order and at the same 
interval, so as to be visible at some place or the other on the earth; this 
can, therefore, be said to be a sort of an 'eclipse-yuga' of 18 years. It is clear 
from the Vedahga Jyotisa and from other examples that the word yuga has bene 
used in astronomy in accordance with the principle underlying this sense. All 
planets come together at the commencement of each of the four yugas and of 
the Mahayuga, and after making a number of revolutions in each yuga they 
come together again in the beginning of the next yuga. This period is termed 
a ' yuga' and though the yuga is employed in the astronomical works in 
the sense of a period of 432,000 years or its multiples, it is found used even in 
its original sense. For instance, in the Bhataprakdiikd, a commentary by Surya 
Deva Yajva on the work of Aryabhata I, the following lines give the 
measures of the yugas of the nodes and aphelia of planets :— 

T«^*ir mifo M fcj?T^faTT: 1 1 o^otrtt *»i sft«fcf. ..u !H!V» £!*<"><>. 

"The yuga (cycle) of the node of Mercury consists of 35,750,224,800 years 
and that of the sun's apogee of 1 19, 167,916,000 years." The number of years 
for each is of course different, which shows that the word 'yuga' is used in the 
above lines to denote the periodic measure of time after which a phenomenon 
recurs. Hence, after reading the Vedic verses one is inclined to think that the 
word yuga must have been used in these lines, in its original sense and the 
measures of time indicated by the word must have been used in these lines in 
its original sense and the measures of time indicated by the word must have 
been different for different phenomena. It cannot, however, be said as to 
what was the actual measure of time and what was the recurrent phenomenon 
J n ^ c h it depended; and although the definition of Mahayuga meaning 
4,320,000 years has not come in vogue in the Vedic age, yuga was no doubt 
used in the sense of some very lengthy measure of time. Not* only this, but 
that the idea that the yugas were four in number was prevalent at the time of 
compilation of the three Vedas, can also be clearly seen from the line "Yd 
jdtd osadhayo devebhyah triyugarh purd" . 


Now the lines in which the words Krta and Treta occur are quoted below 
IromTaittirlya Samhitd :— 

^cWTRf . . .$Mii Ri . • .?rortaTJTi. . jmqnfarnt. . .3rfa>TT*TRf f<mr: fid i ^ 'i: 

£. tf. Y. }. 3- 

14 History of Indian Astronomy 

It will be seen that just as a prayer, 'May the manes, etc., protect us' occurs 
at the end of the stanza, the prayer 'May Krta and Dvdpara protect us also 
does appear there. 

"IdinavadaHa is to be offered to Krta, Kalpi to Tretft, Adhikalpi to 
Dvapara and Sabhasthanu to Askandd"—Vdjastmeya Samhita. 

The commentator Mahldhara renders 'Adinavadarsa' »»"»wh[)^ 
see fault known as Idinava, and 'Kalpi' as one who imagines. The Taittoya 
Brahmana gives a similar but slightly different line under 'Puru§amedha , which 
runs thus ; — 

«A Sabhdvi should be procured for Krta, an adinavadarsa should J* offered 

This stanza names the 'sacrificial persons' which should I be offeicdto 
different deities. The commentary by Madhava gives the meanmgs of these 
terms as follows :— . , . 

'Sabhavi' is one who sits in the gambling hall; an 'adinavadarsa is the 
obse S rve^exU?ner e o7the game ^f gambling) ; a^gj^» ™ wto 
witnesses the game without taking part m it, and a sabhasthanu is the one 
who does not leave the hall even when no game is being played. 

The story of Hariscandra occurs in the Aitareya Brahmana. Hanscandra 
had no sot H?mvoked god Varuna to grant him a son, promising that the 
son Xuld be offe?ed to him in sacrifice. He then got a son who was named 
Rohita After some years when the son was being sacrificed, he ran away 

At that time, Indra, taking a human form, ™*^™?* d ^ When 
return to the forest. This happened repeatedly for four years, wnen 
Rohita returned again, Indra said to him'. 

nfm srirmt >rcfa afa^rsj 5T^t:j« _ 

-One who sleeps becomes Kali, one who sits ^esW^ne^ 
gets up becomes ^Treta, and one who becomes a wander|r ^attains Krta.. 
Therefore keep on roving, keep on roving.' -Aitareya Brahmana 

* * *«*: ^ftm: II V* ^ II W» * «* » ** «: U W***^ H 

"The four sfom<u are Krta and five are Kali and hence the Jyotistoma 
sacrifice should be Catustoma'-Taittiriya Brahmana. 

This gives a limit to the number of 'stomas' i.e. (oblations) Some say five 

four has been stipulated. . . ,,.«-:*,». 

The Vedic Period 15 

clear from the above sentences. Similarly, the belief that Krta indicated 
something good, and others were increasingly inferior, Kali being the worst 
is also indicated in these sentences. As it is evident from several lines in the' 
Vedas that yugas were regarded as units of time and they were believed to be 
four in number, there is no doubt that the origin of the deeply rooted views 
about the yugas in the post-Vedic age lies in these very lines from the Vedas 
in which the terms Krta and others occur. The word Dvapara occurs in 
<}opatha Brahmana (1 -28) in the sense of a unit of time. 


In the Vedanga Jyotisa the yuga is taken to be a cycle of five years The 
names of these years are Sarhvatsara, Parivatsara, Idavatsara, Anuvatsara 
andldvatsara. Although these names do not occur in the Vedanga jyotisa 
itself, there is no doubt that these were the names of the years, in as much 
as they occur in the Vedas, and writers like Garga and others have given 
these very names. Let us see what the Vedas state about this :— 

ST^rnror: tftfoft *m*i;?r a^r^r: Tfrsrwrfaf n 

It can not be definitely said that the words Sarhvatsara and Parivatsasa 
Have been given m this verse to show that this is the correct order of the 
names, still it is certain that the names did occur in this very order And 
looking into the fact that when any thing is to be said about the year in a ge- 
neral sense the word year is generally rendered in the Rigveda by some such 
words as Sarad, Hemanta, etc. which denote a season, it is thought that 
the above words must be the names of two of the years comprising the 
five-year cycle. The word Parivatsara, however, occurs in the Rigveda at 
^beXund (1 °' 62 " 2) ; the namesof the o^er three years are nowhere 

gfaftTdfa tf^MO ^ H w O «V ?Pftfa 3KRu% . 

^ • U 

ftrsKsninf?^^ wwtm fasRtf 4srwi *tf?r«RTf n 

This mantra occurs in Purusamedha and states what particular kinds 

™tH°J?a\tT t0 ' b ? °5 ered to Sa mvatsara, Parivatsara, idavatsara, Idvat- 
sara and Vatsara. In both the mantras from Vajasaneyi Samhita, the order 

^£?o?T eS ° • ve y ears . ls the same - The second mantras mention the name 
fcamvatsara agam after giving the five names beginning with Samvatsara. 

The Taittiriya Brahmana gives the following lines :— 

3. *T. ?. V. *o. 

16 History of Indian Astronomy 

"Agni (fire) is the Samvatsara, Aditya (the sun) the Parivatsarar 
Candrama (the moon) the Idavatsara, and Vayu (wind) the Anuvatsara.'*" 
— Taittiriya Br ahmana. 

These lines mention only four names. Of these, the first three are given 
in the same order as in the Vajasaneyi Samhita and the fourth is Anuvatsara. 
which is different therefrom. 

Taittiriya Br ahmana says, 

?T. ST. \. V. \ 

An almost equivalent quotation from the Vajasaneyi Samhita has already 
been given above. Both of them give the same order of year-names ; there is, 
however, some difference in respect of the animals to be offered in the sacri- 
fice. Even in these lines there is the repetition of the name Samvatsara at 
the end after the mention of the usual five names. 

«msrct% qf^mfu% n **w«iffeita*«iflfar n f??*crr% *?s^cu% u 

A similar quotation from the Vajasaneyi Samhita has been given above. 
This gives the additional name of Iduvatsara as the fourth year, thus making 
the total period consisting of six years. 

Madhavacarya, however, interpretes Iduvastsara as a synonym for Anu- 

Apart from this the names like Samvatsara, Parivatsara and other names 
are found in many places in the Taittiriya and Vajasaneyi Vedas. 

These passages mention a varying number of years, some of them men- 
tion five, others six, while some others only four and these too have been 
given in a different order every time. It cannot be definitely said whether 
these represent the five yearly cycle which was current in the Vedanga 
Jyotisaage. However, the reference to the 5-year cycle and the names of 
years'comprising it in the post-Vedic works which occurs at several places 
must have had some support of tradition. 

In short, it seems that a system, similar in many respects to the 5-year 
cycle system of the Vedanga Jyotisa must have been m use in the Vedic age. 


Let us now consider the connotation of the two terms, the year and the 
month. The word Vars i which at present denotes a unit of 364 or 365 days 
or some such interval, is not found in the same sense in the Rk-Yaju-Sam- 
hitas or the Aitareya, the Taittiriya, the Tandya or the Gopatha Brahmanas, 
but it does occur in the Satapatha Brahmana (2-2-3). In Rigveda, the names 
of seaons like Sarad have been for use denoting a year. Similarly, the words 
Samvatsara and Parivatsara are found so used in some places. In both the 
versions of the Yajurveda words like Sarad and Hemanta have not only been 
used several times in the sense of a year, but the word Samvatsara appears to 
have been used much more frequently. The word 'hay ana' has been used in 

Thb Vedic Period 17 

the sense of a year in the Gopatha Brahmana (6-17). The word 'soma* has. 
also been used in the sense of a year in the Vajasaney! and Rk Sariihitas The 
following mantras may be cited in this respect :— 

Months were Lunar 

It was but natural that in the Vedic age the months were lunar and it 
is needless to give here any quotations in support of this! Some of them 
will be given when the study of the 'month' would be exclusively taken un 
The term *PurnamasV which is applied to full moon days and which literally 
means < ; the tit hi on which the month ends" is well known. It has alreadV 
been pointed out that the term <masa> which was originally a synonvm for 
the moon was later applied to the time-unit of a month. No convenient 
means is available for measuring a solar month like the lunar one which 
is naturally measured by the moon. The measure of a solar month can 
generally be known only by calculations. Therefore, it is clear that at the 
beginning man must have adopted the lunar month for their use and that 
the solar month came into being afterwards. 

The Year was Solar 

The first impression would be that because the months* were lunar 
the year also must have been lunar. It is, therefore, to be considered 
whether the year was a lunar or a solar one ;. and if solar, whether it was 
sidereal or tropical. The following quotations clearly mention the measure 
of a year in terms of days or months. 

*. tf. ?. 3X. z;, 

"Dhrtavrata (Varuna) knows the twelve months ; (and) the animals 
created during that period ; (and) he knows (the intckaWWntW^S 
is created (near the twelve months)"— BikSarhhita. 

Although the word 'intercalary' has not been explicitly stated here it 

L^f rlnT H h • C S? teXt that the interc *lary month is intended and th£ 

accept thTs sent m ThaVt^ ^ traditiona ^ The western scholars also 

bSd23y1SSd ^thifRe^^ C ° mm0nly C ° nSiStS ° f ^ momhs ha * 

* * 

3TT 3*T 3T*t ftmmt are Hc?T ^fa f^rfk^ <*«*: II 

Yer<* *I h J* S £ tC ?li nt ™7 aPpear vague ' beca use only the term 'year' is under consideration " 
r-ere. A study of the civil, lunar and solar months will be taken up later. consiaerallon 

18 " History of Indian Astronomy 

"The wheel (of time) having twelve spokes revolve round the heavens 
%. SaMM ^^ ° Ut ' ° h Agnl ! 72 ° PaifS ° f S ° nS ride this whS 5 ?^- 

+ v, "o T ? eIV u s P^ e " boar <J s » pne wheel, three navels. Who understands 

&£Ks: ssss 360 saflkus (rods) put in uke pess wi »* d " 

It is clear that this curious description refers to the year the 12 months 
are the twe ve spokes of the wheel and the 360 da V s are the 360 nails 'The 
day and night' is a couple and 360 such couples give the number 720 

*¥& ***** w*wr ?Tf^ ^5* wF^^y* *$m 

<T. tf. ?. V. ?*. 

. "Oh Soma XJuice) ! You are taken in by the 'upayama' ( i.e. a dish a 
slMm" ^ ' yoU are Madnava > you are Sukra, tic* -Taittiriya, 

This gives the following names of the twelve months ; Madhu, Madhava 
Sukra, Sua Nabhas, Nabhasya, Isa, Orj a , Sahas, Sahasya, Tapas and 
Tapasya. It also gives Samsarpa as the name of the intercalary month 
Madhavacarya, while commenting on the above lines, observes that the 
word Amhaspap means the suppressed or decayed month. 

*f ^*re^r , rafla*!Vl sm* sfc&si fan^ ^m tm*^ * T fapr- 

?f. tf. Y. Y. ?$. 

"Madhu and Madhava are the (two) months* of spring • g u kra and Suci 
of summer ; Nabhas and Nabhasya of the rainy season ; Isa and C?ia of 
autumn ; Sahas and Sahasya of late autumn ; and Tapas and Tapasva of 
sisira (winter)- Taittiriya Sarhhita." u xapasya ot 

srar TT^fftm: **rrcr srew mm: TOWTT: 

♦The word «*tu' appears to have been used in sense of a 'month' in the original. 


The Vedic Period ' - . 

shnssr: *fa?*TT WFSH ^ffsfeifcf TTsft- 

_ , , , ?f. tf. H. £. \s 

"One should remain consecrated for six nights, because there are six sea 

sons in a year Consecration should be observed for twelve niehts 

b cause there are twelve months in a year Consecration should las 

for 13 nights because the year has 13 months* etc."— Taitt\riya Samhita. 

z&* sftfare sraifa *fo&& stftsfhnscngcft: *fa?*P03r thw 

3. tf. \9. SC. \. 

"It has 360 'Stotriyas' because the year has so many nights "—Taittiirivt 
Samhita. - Vl 

fro. . .jtostw. . .5*. . .^#. .. .^. . .s^rer. . .am . . 

*u" { S h J: hxXgTaha !) You have be€n ad °P te d by 'Upayama' (i.e. a dishWoi 
the Madhu "—Vajasaneyi Samhita. < wsajpoi 

# Some of the lines quoted from Taittiriya Samhita (1-4-14) are almost 
similar to those given above. These contain similar names of the. twelve 

SSSltfc ^ V /5". ^ adhu ' Madhava > etc -> but the last verse names the 
thirteenth month as 'Amhaspati'. 

The quotations "Madhusca Madhavasca " from Taittiriva 

and 1 15 t 57) ai ' e f0Und " ^J* 8 * 1 "* 1 Saiiihita also (see 13. 25, 14.6,15,16,27 
sf wfin ^t^T sfirro s^t sstfara ssn^T *rfar- 

T^ ^T^T WT^m ^T^T 5pPR ^figT ^ 
?^T ff^ **1^T *mW1 ^T^m ^T^NflT 

3T-tf. ^. *?. 

not ne^ss^ n f^ni^i a tK° Ve pa f ag T e ^ as been P artl y omitted in the text bec a«se it is 
not necessary lor explaining the point. It is now given in full below. 

is mad? n »n of U L n .f e ^ ain ^ COnSe o rate ^ for 15 ni & hts - Half a m °a th ^s 15 nights. A year 
make a vea? p e ™£? ^ K TT "»"***«» for24 ni S hts > because 24 half-monfhs 
?£». a Onf '.-iJJffSS.S'^SSSJSL 30 ni ^ **ause thirty ^«™ make the 


Fins/ nnc chnnuT™ r-— "«-« .ui ov iiigms, Because inirty Ak?aras make t 
distinction VlS remain consecrated for a month because a month is a year". Here _ 

put forward for the^hV° dayS a ? d a m - onth - SimDarI y' looking to the reasons 
Sne wnidd ™J?t^ ^e observance of a period of a particular number of nigBts, 
nleaTr *?££,£ * auth .°f to «co™?»«Kl the adoption of 1 period of 30 nights, on the 
S^d^httfSh,?h?v^-° f ^I? 1 * 8 ' but jt is not so * tated ' Hence it 'appu,*' 

2 DGO/59 , 

20 History of Indian Astronomy 

The above lines first give the terms Samsarpa, Malimluca (now usually 
given as a synonym for the intercalary month) followed by Madhu and other 
names of 12 months, and then comes the thirteenth name ' AmhaspatV. This 
shows that Sarhsarpa, Malimluca and Amhaspati must have some differences 
in their meanings. 

"They purchased 'Soma' juice from the thirteenth month, and hence the 
thirteenth month is censurable", — Aitareyq Brahmana. 

^T1*r srercnfa i^fe^r towt WT^ifr- • -^ f * 

SRTTfa frofcOT J MdKm i jkWf : <t 5(T: vs. *\3. 

"A year has 360 days, a year has 720 days and nights together". 

tinsq U ({c|4<d«l fTOJ II £. ST. 3- 5. 3- 

"Should the reins in a horse-sacrifice be twelve cubits in length or 
thirteen ? The year consisting of (six) seasons is a kind of bullcck whose 
hunch is the thirteenth month. The horse-sacrifice is the best of all 
sacrifices. The year in the form of a bullock has got a hunch (in the form 
of the 13th month)". — Aitareya Brahmana. 

It is clear from the above quotations that the year was solar in the Vedic age. 
The natural means of measuring a year used to be one complete cycle of 
seasons, just as the natural means of measuring a day was the period between 
two consecutive sunrises or that for measuring a month used to be the period 
between two full moons. The year as a unit of time could not have come into 
existence if seasons were not to exist. It is, therefore, obvious that the year 
must have been solar. During the earliest stages of observation, the seasons 
were naturally supposed to recur after 12 lunar months. Although, one com- 
plete cycle of seasons required 11 days more than 12 lunar months, it must 
have been difficult to guess this correct measure in the beginning and one 
year must have been supposed to consist of 12 lunar months for a considerable 
period of time. As a result of this supposition, however, the month which 
used to fall in summer must have shifted to occur in winter and later on in the 
rainy season and thus have gradually receded through all the seasons. Every 
month of that calendar, like the Muharram of the Muslims, was bound to pass 
through all the seasons, thus completing a revolution in 33 years. After the 
passage of several such cycles of 33 years, it must possibly have occurred to 
people to insert an intercalary month; and the fact that such an intercalary 
month used to be reckoned in the Vedic times goes to prove that the year was 
solar in those days. This may appear very trivial today, but it certainly was 
no ordinary matter that our people conceived the idea of inserting an inter- 
calary month in those days of hoary antiquity. As a matter of fact it is 
extremely significant. 

The Vedic Period 21 

The ancient Romans who at one time were a very powerful nation u^ed to 
regard a year as consisting of 10 months for quite a long time. Some of those 
parts of the Vedas which contain references to intercalary months were com- 
piled before 1500 B. C. Even European scholars accept this view. The 
reference to intercalary months has not been made in such passages as a* matter 
of special or unusual interest. It, therefore, appears that the idea had become 
* matter of common experience long before that time. 

Now there is no clue to find out the number of months that used to lapse 
before the intercalary month was inserted. According to the current practice 
an intercalary month is inserted after about 32 or 33 months by mean reckoning. 
The figure would vary by a month or two if true motions are taken. Even 
then it occurs" after 32 or 33 months on an average. It used to occur after 30 
months according to the Vedanga Jyotisa. It is not known after how many 
months an intercalary month used to occur in the Vedic age. However 
there must have been some rule for this. * 

The terms 'Malimluca', 'Samsarpa' and 'Amhaspati' occur in the lines 
quoted above. The following lines show that the intercalary month is known 
as 'Malimluca'. 

Tfa«TT 5*fa?ft WRITS': SSTrft *rfH**H: 

— «TW: 

"The lunar month which is skipped over by the sun is known as Malimluca" 

"When the sun is found to cross only one Rdsi in two months the former is , 
called the Malimluca and the latter the Suddha or proper''— Maitreya Sutra. 

The terms Samsarpa and Amhaspati are defined as : 

««?/L Sh n^ S th -f - he . Asa ™k r ™ti °* intercalary month was called 'Samsarpa' 
and the Dvisamkranti or missing month as 'Amhaspati'. 

ihJXlr^°-\^ M fu rta S intamaiii has ' in Chapter I, verse 47, described 
the characteristics of the above two months as follows :~ 

w ' Wh 5 mi ssing month occurs, two intercalary months also occur in that 
5 £' ATJ^ TQ f. dmS lt \ s to be known as Samsarpa and the one following 
mtLvedkaee" Jt 1S not knowtt if the terms carried some such meaning 

or .Vdpr^WoT sho .wn that the year was solar. Whether it was tropical solar 
or sidereal solar will be considered later on. 


of thefivi 5 n S c C t e ™ Wlletl?er i any kind of y ear other than th * sol *r was in use. Out 
Sd^ and W? Malin S aSU ^ s . of timc viz - Savana (sacrificial), lunar, solar, 
is fnn«H t il an ' n ° dw^Ption of either the sidereal or the Jovian year 
rernJinfnfti? lear + or even . ^ implicit terms in the Vedic literature. The 
remaining three terms will now be considered. 


22 ' History of Indian Astronomy 

The period between two consecutive sunrises is known as Savana day. 
The term Savana has its origin in the 'Soma-sacrince'. In a 'soma sacrifice'the 
'soma' juice has three 'savanas' i.e., it is offered three times during the period 
of 'a day and a night'. This idea is expressed by Madhavacarya in his work 

"Kdla Mddhava" as follows 

Therefore, that which pertains to 'savana' is savana, that pertaining to 
* candra' (moon) is candra and that which pertains to the sun is 'saura' (i.e. 

The soma-sacrifice which is completed in one day of 24 hours is known as 
'aha* in the Vedas (and it appears that the day also used to be known as 'aha'). 
A group of such six 'aha's is known as 'sadahtf and five such sadahas 
make a 'masa| or a month. Several such sadahas and masas are required to 
be observed in a samvatsara-satra i.e. an amfial sacrifice; and all of them 
together make 360 days. (In addition to these, the visuvdn or equinoctial 
day falls in the midst of these days.) Madhavacarya says : — 

This and other similar quotations go to show that the 'Savana' year was in 
use for sacrificial purposes; and it must have been in use in day to day affairs, 
for it was easier to measure it than the solar or the lunar year. 

It has already been shown on page 17 that the months were lunar; conse- 
quently a lunar year also must have been in vogue. Its congruance with the 
solar year, however, used to be made up by the insertion of an intercalary 

It seems to have come to notice that the lunar year did not consist of 360 
days but was somewhat shorter. 

Proofs have already been adduced (see foot-note on page 19) in support 
of the argument that a lunar month was noticed to be not exactly equal to 
30 days. There is a sacrifice known as Utsargindmayana which is another 
form of Gavdmayana sacrifice. A stanza from the Taittiriya Samhitd relat- 
ing to it quotes the line. 

3. tf. \3. VO %. 

meaning " a day is omitted after some sadahas and masas are observed ". 
It indicates the circumstances under which a day is to be omitted during 
the period when a sacrifice continues. Because a lunar month is equivalent 
to 29 \ days, two such months would be equivalent to 59 days. Therefore, 
if a *sadaha' sacrifice is commenced on the first day of a lunar month, the 
second lunar month would end one day earlier than the completion of two 
sacrificial months (i.e. 60 days). The sacrificial priests, after actually notic- 
i ng this di screpancy, must have felt the need for omitting* one day from one 

♦Madhavacarya writes about this 'omission' in Kdlamddhava : — 

(3mTerre?srmT*TFT riTOng^aiftr ) ^w^ ii 

The Vedic Period 23 

of the sadahas and this must have resulted in the introduction of the 
*utsargindmayana' sacrifice. 

The reason for omitting a day has been given in the Tdndya BrShmana 
as follows :— * 

''If a day is not omi iied^ the year will swell like the bellows made of 
leather". ^^ 

The line 'utsrijydm notsrijyd' given in the stanza following the one in 
which the lines quoted above occur shows that the Brahmavadins held 
deliberations for several days on the question as to whether to omit a day 
or not, and it was but natural that it so happened. It can not, however, 
be clearly understood as to how many days used to be left out during a 
year ; still the idea that a lunar year consisting of 12 lunar months was shorter 
than 360 days was no doubt prominent in it. In short it may be stated that 
the civil, the lunar and the solar years were in vogue in the Vedic age. 



Let us now consider the ayanas. Ayanas are two — the Uttarayana 
and the Daksinayana. There appear to be two views regarding the period 
of time to be indicated by them and the sun's position at those times. The 
authors of Siddhantic Astronomy are, however, unequivocal on this point. 
The two terms have clearly been defined by them, viz., the period of the sun's 
movement from the beginning of Capricornus to that of Cancer is known 
as Udagayana and that from Cancer to Capricornus as the Daksindyana. 
If the sun be observed on any consecutive four or five days during Uda- 
gayana at the time of rising or at any other fjxed time, it would every, day 
be found at a point shifted to the north as compared with its position on 
the preceding day, irrespective of whether the sun is at the north or south of 
the celestial equator. During Daksinayana the sun is found to be moving 
from north to south. According to some writers Udagayana in the northern 
hemisphere is the period from the beginning of Siiira to the end of Grisma, 
and according to some others it is from the middle of Hemanta to* the 
middle of Grisma. The above astronomical meaning of Udagayana has 
generally been accepted in all modern works, but the word 'ayana' appears 
to have been carrying a different sense in early days. Satapatha Brdhmana 
contains the following :— 

The words Udagayana and Daksinayana have not been explicitly used 
here, but it is simply stated that the sun ns said to be entering the region 
of gods when it turns north and the spring, summer and the rainy seasons 

24 History of Indian Astronomy 

are stated to be the seasons belonging to the gods. It, therefore, appears 
that the interpretation in vogue was that Udagayana denoted the period 
during which the sun kept to the north of equator, and Daksinayana, the 
one during which it kept to the south. 

Some astronomical Samhita works appear to use the term 'ayanas' in 
this very sense, for they speak of the Udagayana as the day of the gods ; 
and to the gods residing on the Mount Meru, the sun in its northward course 
is continuously visible for six months, which shows that the term Udagayana 
is to be applied to the continuous position of the sun to the north of the 
equator. The Bhagavata also gives the same meaning. 

dHINlfew: WHS* SEfismfa <refT^>T v <\. 3- 

In the above line of Taittiriya Samhita it has been stated that the sun 
moves towards the south for six months, and towards the north for another 
six months. An extract from Nirukta regarding the progress of the soul 
after death has been quoted in the succeeding pages (see paragraph on Niruka 
infra) and it refers to the sun's northward and southward motion. A similar 
description is found in most of the Upanisads, but it is all in a general 
sense. With the exception of the above quotation from the Satapatha 
. Brahmana, nowhere in the Vedas any reference has been found that clearly 
shows what measure of time was denoted by the word *ayana\ The words 
Udagayana and Uttarayana occur in the Maitrayanl-Upanisad and in the 
following lines from the Narayana Upanisad (anuvak 80). 

Excepting these two works, all others have generally used the words 
Devayana and Devaloka for Udagayana, and Pitryana and Pitrloka for 
Daksinayana. Nothing can definitely be said as to whether these words 
carried the same meaning as the word 'ayana* in the Satapatha Brahmana 
or whether it was used also in the other sense in some other places, and 
as to which of the two was more ancient and when the other sense came 
into vogue* There is, however, no ambiguity about the interpretation of the 
ayanas as given by the astronomical works as quoted above, and this is 
found in all works on astronomy and is generally accepted at present. 


Let us now consider the question of seasons. This has already befen 
partially discussed above. 

The names of seasons like &arad and Hemanta occur at many places 
in Rk Samhita. The word 'Rtu', however, does not occur by itself as fre- 
quently iii the Rk Samhita, as it does in both the schools of Yajurveda 
and Bahvrca Brahmana. The Rigveda Samhita does not on the whole 
appear to attach much importance to the seasons. The 28th and 29th sections 
of the 3rd chapter of the 5th astaka of Rb-Samnita give about 50 to 60 sentences 

The Vedic Period 25 

in which prayers to gods like 'Sam na Indragnl bhavatam* meaning 'may 
gods Indra and Agni bless us' are found but nowhere is found a single sentence 
to the effect that the year, seasons, months and naksatras may bless 
one. One would expect to find in an equal number of stanzas in the Yajurikda 
at least some stanzas devoted to prayers to seasons. 

Number of Seasons 

Excepting the Rk Samhita all other Vedic works mention six as the 
number of seasons at various places, and at many of these places the names 
of all the seasons have been mentioned collectively {see Tai. Sam. 4. 3. 2 ; 
5. 6. 23 ; 7. 5. 14 ; etc. Some of the places have already been pointed out 

At several places however it is stated that the seasons are five in number : 
for instance, 

T^wrcrfcfa n$n u to m ^?m: tiror: 

''Sacrifice should be performed in five Saradiyas (i.e. seasons) 

because a year has 5 seasons". Since the year was supposed to have five 
seasons, it seems that Hemanta and Sisira formed one season. The following 
line may be seen for this purpose. - 

"Twelve months comprise five seasons of which Hemanta and S"i$ira 
together form one''. 

Even from the Taittiriya Samhita, Taittiriya Brahmana and Satapatha 

K£S!F a IX aV^ U that when the y ear was supposed to have five seasons, 
Hemanta and Sisira were taken together to form one. Even Madhavacarya 
observes (under determination of seasons'ln Kala M adhava) that in such caws 
the season of Sisira should be included in Hemanta and cites authorities in 
support of his argument. In some rare places (see Satapatha Brahmana 
5. 4. 4. 17.) the seasons are said to be three in number. 

The First Season 

thoJ n th r Ve ? a . S ' ^ he . reve r all the six seasons are mentioned collectively, 
l h K f° c und to . begin with Spring. In addition there are explicit state- 
ments that Spring is the chief season, e.g. 

£. *T. *. ?. ^. $, \9. ' 

"Spring is the mouth of the seasons." 

**? ?* (tf*?STOr) smer: ftfT: il tffart crfai* TO: n **t: 
Wt » 3TC^I?:-TO: II |*m> m* II 

26 History of Indian Astronomy 

''The spring is the head (of the year) ; the summer is the right wing ; 
the monsoon forms the tail ; autumn the left wing, and winter the central 

^milar statements are found at two more places. Here Hemanta is 
stated to be the middle of the year, and the rainy season its tail. 

If the year be compared to a bird, the following chart would correctly 
represent the position stated above ; 


(Left wing) (Belly) (Right wing) 

Autumn Winter Summer 


Commencement of Seasons 

< v \. 3. 

"Two faced is the vessel of seasons ; who knows which one is the mouth 
of the seasons ?" 

This remark seems to suggest that none can know when a particular 
season commences. And that is correct. The seasons depend upon the 
sun's position. If in a certain year a solar month begins, say, simultane- 
ously with a lunar month, it would in the following year commence from 
the 12th day of the light half and in the subsequent year from the 8th day 
of the dark half. Therefore, the commencement of a season with respect 
to the tithi is irregular. Not only this, but it is somewhat irregular with 
respect to the sidereal solar month also. At present rains start within 4 or 
5 days of either ahead or after the beginning of the nirayana Mrga naksatra. 
The commencing day of a season varies from place to place also ; it is ot 
course, obvious that the variation would be about five to ten days ; still it 
was but natural for the ancients to express their thoughts as in the above 
quotation. • 

It would be very difficult to obtain an accurate knowledge of the transi- 
tion moments of two half-months or those of the seasons in the absence 
of an accurate knowledge of the motions of the luminaries and of the means 
of measuring time. The following myth will show how difficult it was for 
the primitive man to note the ending moments of the full moon and the 
new moon as also the ending of one season and the beginning of the next. 

* * ° 5RT. *T. I. %. V 

The Vedic Period 27 

"After mankind was created by Prajapati, his parvas (knuckles) became 
loose. The sarhvatsara (year) itself represented the Prajapati. The two 
'points' of day and night i.e. twilight, the full moon and the new moon, and 
the commencement of seasons— these are his parvas. The gods diagonised 
the disorder. They cured the 'joints' of day and night and set them in their 
correct places by maintenance of agnihotras (sacred fires). The full and the 
new moons were correctly adjusted by the Paurnamdsesti and Darsegti and 
the 'joints' of the seasons were set right by means of the 'Cdturmdsyayajna* 
(i.e. four monthly sacrifices)''. 

This story points to some kind of the association of the knowledge of 
time with the sacrificial system. 


Let us now consider the question of the month. It has already been 
dealt with at some length in the course of the discussion under the heading 
*The Year'. Madhu and other names of months have already appeared in 
the foregoing discussion. In addition to this, some more names are found 
in Taittirlya Brahmana and they are now being given in the following quota- 
tions which include some different names of seasons and half-months also :— 

( ' t- ■ 

am vzt% n qf^r ^rq«i«^r^^e^rFre^i|^t^ sfa n x& t& ^ n 
q* §ra Numr. 11 q* *rror: n sm *t?t§ u srfwpsjfcr ^f^T^: snirqfa: 
*m?src c% n q>* q* ?ra h q^* % la^ra u q«* ^^m n q* timxv. n *. ?o. *. 

The half-months referred to above are given in the following list. These 
are the names of the 24 half-months occurring in one year :— • Q .\sf\et\ • 

i t!fa*pr ^ ***** ?? ^ : ' ' ^ *&™5&* « ' , s - \) * ^K 

^ ^5iJ? 7 1 «ese are the names of 24 half-months occurring in a year. i ( -y , ^TfvG 
Following is the list of names of months. ^ ^^' M "J^ ^ J % ' ^^ 

^.^W; ( ^ 'lining ^SfSr^ ?:*££& 

i "5$i:5 ; Ic contains 13 names, apparently including that of the intercalary 

month. • 

3rf*T3c§: $*f ^g^sm ?c§: 11 

28 History of Indian Astronomy 

This appears to be the list of six seasons. It may possibly be inter- 
preted as the three seasons (of the year) v/2.,Agni (Fire), Surya (The Sun) 
and Candrama (The Moon). 7 

At the end, the 'samvatsara' (year) is declared to be representing the 
Prajapati in the following :— & 

STSTFifrT: tfsrWT* q%l?m: - 

£• ST. 3. ?o. $. 

Names of Months 

(Madhvadi and Caitradi systems) 

It can clearly be seen that the Madhvadi and Arunadi systems of names 
have a close association with the seasons and not with the naksatras. These 
names are not found in the Rigveda Samhita, But the Brahamanic works 
of the Aitareya, the Taittirlya arid the Vajasaneyi Samhitas appear to attach 
considerable importance to Madhu and other names. In these works 
however, one does not come across terms like Caitri etc., involving naksatras 
and having for their derivations such definitions as these : 

(i) That the full moon day on which the moon becomes full near the 
star Citra (Spica) is to be termed Caitrl-Purnima, and 

(ii) That lunar month in which the Caitrl-Parnima occurs, is termed 

To come to know that the moon always becomes full near particular 
naksatras is the first stage ; that introduction of names like Caitri, Vaisakhl 
etc. for these full-moon nights after a lapse of time is the second stage and the 
third stage is the establishment of a complete nomenclature to start with 
as being governed by the rule •' Sdsmin Paumamasiti" (Panini 4-2-21) meaning 
it is so called, because the full moon night of that name falls in that month " 
The names of naksatras are found in all the above mentioned Vedasat 
many places ; but it is only at two places that the moon has been explicitly 
mentioned as becoming full near a star. The passages are quoted below. 

These occur in the following stanzas from Taittirlya Samhita, which also 
contains references to time-units in the discussion of tlje problem, regarding 
the time when one should consecrate oneself for the annual sacrifice known 
as Oava-mayana' and that is why it is quoted here in full. 

zmxTK 3fVr^rar*mTT qwt>mi ttitaror * **«tto qtffr ***Te^a**i 

The Vedic Period 29 

^j?m^ ^r#TqfTrw?im?gfTJr nwn ff?r ct^t *m r tt»#Tct ii 

3. *f. V9. Y * 

"Those who are desirous of performing a 'samvatsara* (yearly) sacrifice 
should consecrate themselves on the Ekastaka tithi. The Ekastaka is the 
wife of the samvatsara himself. He dwells with her on that night. Hence, 
such people (as are consecrated on the Ekatsaka Tithi) are taken as con- 
secrated in the very beginning of the year. 

Those who become consecrated on the Ekastaka day get 'consecrated* 
against the troubles of the year. Their seasons bear the names of last two 
seasons. Those who consecrate themselves on the Ekastaka day become 
consecrated against the 'confusions' of the year. The year becomes disin- 
tegrated for them. Their seasons bear the last two names of t|he list. One 
should get consecrated on the full moon day of the Phalguna, because 
Phalguna full moon is the * mouth * of the year. Hence, (such people) are 
taken as consecrated from the very beginning of the year. But such people 
have to accept one 'nirya' (draw back) viz. that the 'Visuvan' (equinox) 
occurs in the cloudy season (sanmedhya). Hence, one should consecrate in 
the Citra-full-moon day. The Citra-full-moon day As the 'mouth* 
of the year. Hence, those (who commence their sacrifice on this day) are 
said to be consecrated from the *mouth* of the year. This involves no draw- 
back. One should pass through consecration on the 4th day before the full 
moon day, thereby, they secure the kraya Le. the purchase of soma juice. 
Thereby they avoid making the Ekastaka fruitless. They secure the occasion 
for extracting the soma juice in the * former half-month ' and secure the 
proper position of the half-month and the months also. They rise in the 
former half-month and the herbs and trees grow aftej: them. They (i.e. sac- 
rifices) get fame as prosperous persons and consequently all prosper'*. 


This passage also occurs in the Tdndya Brdhmana (5. 9) of Sama Veda. 
It, however, contains a few different words and one or two different 

The words 'Phalguni Purnamasa* and <Citra Purnamasa' occur in the 
above passage. They only mean the full moon nights associated with the 
stars Phalguni and Citra. It should be noted that neither the words^ 
Phalguna and Caitra nor the terms Phalguni and Caitri occur therein. 

zrfbm ?twF?t ii 

^* ST. ?. ?. ^ *;/ 

*The Tdndya Brdhmana mentions one more draw back of the Ekasfka in the words 
"aponabhinandantobhyavayanti" \ meaning the sacrificers do not salute water before taking 
on "avabhritha" bath and the word "sathmedha"* which has been used for sanmedhya^ 
renders it as "on a cloudy day'*. 

.30 History of Indian Astronomy 

"Fire should not be kindled onthePurva Phalguni nights ;* (since) Purva 
JPhalguni is the last night of the year. It should be kindled on the Uttara 
Phalguni. This is the first night of the year.'* 

Although the word 'full moon night' is not explicitly mentioned here, still 
the full moon night when the Purva Phalguni stars come together with the 
full moon, appears to be implied in it. That the moon becomes full near 
the Phalguni naksatra is the idea suggested by these words. However, not 
only the word Phalguna does not occur in it, but even the word "Phalguni- 
purpamdsa" does not occur in it as it does in the lines quoted above from the 

The above lines show that the phenomenon of the moon becoming full 
near certain stars had been noticed in the times of Taittirlya Samhita and 
Brahmana. Still it must be remembered that the names Caitra etc., had 
-definitely not come into vogue in those times. 

q* t 3 *famTF* srom Tifrraf q>r?»Fft q^hmft 11 

srarisfirT^rq v ^?. ^. \*. 

The words "Phalguni PurnamdsV occur in this. Even the Sankhyayana 
^Brahmana (which the author has not seen) is said to contain the following line :— 

*n #*t wnfft qW»n*ft ««w?nw swit Tifw: n 

Any way, the word 'Phalguni* occurring in all these quotations only means 
"associated with the Phalguni star". The words 'Phalguni Purnamasi* 
occurring in gatapatha Brahmana (2-6-3) has been defined by Sayanacarya 
as "that full moon night which becomes associated with the two Phalguni 
asterisms is known as the Phalguni". The Samavidhana Brahmana (2.4) 
-contains the line, 

In this 'Rauhini' simply means "associated with Rohini star", it has 
nothing to do with the 'Rauhina' month. Similarly, the Pausi, the Phalguni, 
>etc, stand for those full moon nights which are associated with the stars of 
corresponding names. In short, it can be said that only the terms 'Phalguni* 
etc., had come into vogue at the time when Brahmana works were compiled. 
Nowhere in the Samhita and Brahmana do the words Phalguna, Caitra, etc., 
occur in the sense of names of months, and this shows that these terms were not 
then in vogue. Much time must necessarily have elapsed before the term 
Phalguna, Caitra etc., came into vogue, even when the terms Phalguni, etc., 
had gained currency. This point can be easily understood if one considers 
as to how long a time has to elapse before a scientific theory becomes an 
established truth. 

In short, the terms Caitra, etc., were not in vogue in the Samhita and 
Brahmana period. Thus it can be proved from the historical point of view 
that these terms came into use after a very long period of time after the terms 
Madhu, etc., became current. 

The Vedic Period 31 

It will now be shown that even the Nature works in the same order of* 

In the beginning, man must have been guided by the moon for counting, 
the months ; and the cluster of stars situated in the path through which the 
sun and the moon are generally seen to move, must have received the names 
of 27 stars. But the position of the stars remains practically constant in 
relation to the ecliptic and, therefore, even after the names Madhu, etc., 
had come into vogue and the 27 naksatras had received special names, a 
considerable period of time must have elapsed ; firstly, before it was minutely 
observed that the moon moves through particular groups of stars and that 
it becomes full near some of them and secondly, before the terms (Caitrl 
Paurmma, etc.,) came into vogue on the basis of that observation and thirdly, 
the terms Caitra etc., finally arose therefrom and. became current as the 
names of months. 

For instance, the star Aldebaran (Rohini) lies about 5|° to the south of the 
ecliptic and must have remained in that position for thousands of years,* 
but the moon does not move exactly on the ecliptic. It attains a position* 
with maximum latitude of 5° to 5^° north or south of the ecliptic. Its path- 
cuts the ecliptic. Had the points of intersection, that is, the moon's nodes. 
(Rahu and Ketu) been stationary, its position relative to the stars, would 
have remained unchanged ; but the nodes have got motion. They make 
a complete revolution in about 18J years. It is on account of this that the 
moon and the star Rohini at times come together in the course of 18| years. 
Sometimes the moon occults the star while sometimes it is seen to be at 
a distance of about 11° of latitude from it. The phenomenon of the moon 
sometimes occulting a star and sometimes remaining away from it at a latitude 
of about 11°, is no mean source of confusion in one's attempt at detecting the 
rule about the occurrence of the full moon near the stars. It is in fact much 
more confusing and to add to this, there is another kind of minor confusion. 
For instance, during the period from September 1884 to March 1888, the 
moon regularly used to occult the star Rohini (Aldebaran), once in the 
course of every revolution and this phenomenon was observable at one- 
place or the other on the earth. But it was not that every such occultation 
of Rohini occurring during the revolutions of the moon would be seen at 
a given place on the earth. This interesting phenomenon could be seen 
m our province only on 3 or 4 occasions. On other occasions this, 
phenomenon used to take place sometimes by day or sometimes when the 
moon was below the horizon. On some occasions, the moon used to appear" 
only at a very short distance from Rohini. Moreover, this position is not 
necessarily true in the case of all stars. In other words, the moon does, 
not necessarily occupy a distance* of +5° maximum latitude from each star 
in each revolution of the node ; for it sometimes comes very near to some 
stars and goes away from others ; it moves via north in the case of some, 
and passes in a southerly direction in the case of others. Other kinds of 
confusion involved in perceiving this phenomenon of the full moon near the 
stars and formulating a rule about it are also worth noting. 

For instance, if the moon becomes full near a particular star in the first 
month, it will become full again near the next second or third star in the 

♦This point cannot be fully discussed here. One can understand this by roting the* 
moments of its conjunctions with the stars during any period of 5 to 7 years, as given in 
the tabies on the lunar conjunctions with stars in the Sayana almanacs. 

32 History of Indian Astronomy 

next month. The rule about the full moon's proximity with certain stars 
would be easily discovered, if after the completion of 12 lunar months the 
moon becomes full near the same star in the second round of 12 months as in 
the first. 

But it so happens that if it is found to be full near, say, Asvini, in the 
first month of the first round, it would appear to have become full near 
Revati in the first lunar month of the second round. It is also not true that the 
moon becomes full only near those 12 asterisms to which Caitra and other 
lunar months owe their origin. As a matter of fact, it becomes full near 
^ach of the 27 asterisms in some month or the other. There is still another 
difficulty ; there are only four out of the 27 stars which do not fade but remain 
visible even when the full moon is in close proximity with them, and they are 
Magha, Jyestha, Citra and RohinL Some of the rest become invisible when 
the moon approaches them within a distance of 7° to 8° and there are still 
others which fade away in the moon's lustre when it is still further away. 
' In short, it is obvious that long time must have elapsed before the rule about 
the moon's becoming full near particular stars could be established after the 
asterisms received their names. The next stage was the application of the 
names Caitri, Vaisakhl, etc., to the full moons, and the stage next to this was 
the naming of lunar months after the stars. 

In short, it is proved, from the natural order of progress and from the 
historical point of view, that the terms Caitra etc. came into vogue when 
considerable time had elapsed after the introduction of names like Madhu, etc. 

The Solar Months 

References to the civil and lunar months are definitely found in the 
Vedas ; but an explicit mention of solar months is not found anywhere in 
them. The solar month is the time which the sun takes to cross each of the 
12 equal divisions of the 'bhacakra* (zodiac). Mesa and other names of 
Rasis are not found in the Vedas ; but that is immaterial. But even a corres- 
ponding set of names for the 12 equal divisions of the 'bhacakra" are also not 
found anywhere. Now, it cannot be said for certain that Madhu-Madhava 
given in the Vedas as names of months were not the names of solar months 
for, while their connotation indicates some relationship with the seasons, 
that is indirectly with the sun, they are also used as synonyms for the seasons 
(see page 18). We do not, however, find any statement that they ended on 
days other than the full moon or the new moon days- On the other hand, 
we find it definitely mentioned that months end either on the full moon day 
or the new moon day. Hence, these appear to be the names of lunar months 
or in other words of the months which end on full moon or new moon days. 
The year, however, was undoubtedly solar, hence why should it be considered 
improbable that solar months different in measure from lunar months were 
also in vogue ? In all probability, they were in current use and there are 
grounds to believe that just as Madhu and other names were applied to lunar 
months they were equally applicable to solar months also. 

The Amdnta and Purnimanta Months 

Let us now see if the months were Purnimanta or Amanta. That month 
which ends with Amavasya or the new moon is called Amanta and the one 
which ends in Purnima or the full moon is called Purnimanta. Both these 

The Vedic Period 33 

modes of reckoning are found in the Vedas. That (night) on which the Masa 
(month) becomes purria (full or complete) is PaurQamdsi. Hence, the very 
word PaurnamasI indicates the Purnimanta reckoning. 

■ a. m. \, v V3. 

"Religious vow is commenced with a sacrifice on the full moon day and 
with calves on the new moon day". 

In this quotation the word coupled with * Amavasya' is Purnamasa, 
which shows that the month used to become full on the PaurnamasI 


The following quotation from a stanza in " Vtsargl^amayana" shows that 
the months* ended both on Amavasya and Purnima : — 

#. tf. \8. V %, \. 

The following lines immediately following the above stanza specially 
appear to favour the Purnimanta system :— • 

jRtftqin^TT iron^wnsroisifa f*n*T*ta asm* *m %&*$$** n 

£. tf. V3. ^. %. 

In the chapter on 'Universe' in the Atharvasruti, the description of the 
'Creation of Samvatsara' is followed by these lines referring to the month and 
the half-month : — = 

*rmt ^ snmrfa: n <tft **ww t& tT«r stist: sew n * ' 

"The month is verily the Prajapati ; its dark half is the Sun and the light 
half the Life (soul).' 5 

In this, the dark half is mentioned first ; this shows that the Purnimanta 
system was in vogue. But the Taittiriya Brahmana gives the list of names of 
days in the two halves of a month (see page 43); the list gives the names of 
days in the light half first and those in the dark half afterwards; this leads 
one to believe that even the amanta system was in use. 


IJ the Purnimanta system be adopted, the dark half of the month comes 
first and the light half afterwards, and hence, the term 'purva' should have 

♦The Kdlamddhava, after considering the doubts raised against these quotations, has 
given the verdict that these lines describe both the purnimanta and the amanta systems. 

34 History of Indian Astronomy* 

been applied to the dark half and 'apara' to the light one ; but it is not so. 
The 'purva-apara' terms are applied respectively to the light and the dark 

"t^st ws^er i 3*<wsnr?*g*T: u wft sst 3-*«sr i qTTg*T: u 

3. ST- ^. R. 3- \. 

"Gods were born in the 'purva-paksa' and the demons (asuras) in the 
*apara-paksa' that is why the gods won and demons were defeated." ' 

3. 5TT. 3- ?o. V .$. 

"The purva-paksa is the girdle and the apara-paksa is the dirt". 

Although the terms light and dark are not explicitly mentioned, the 
fact that 'Sukla' indicates something auspicious and 'Krsna' something 
inauspicious, one may presume that the term 'Purvapaksa' stood for 'sukla' 
and 'apara' for 'Krsna'. The names of the 15 days of each of the Turva' 
and 'Apara' halves are given later on, and the terms 'Purva' and 
'Apara' have been used in the sense of 'Sukla' and 'Krsna' in them. In the 
'Nirukta' (11*6) it is said in the mantra concerning the moon, 

snTWftwftww ii- 

The word 'Purvapaksa' has clearly been used in the sense of 'Sukla-paksa* 
and the 'Apara-paksa' in the sense of 'Krsna-paksa'. The words 'piirvapara* 
are found used in this very sense in the post-Vedic works. 


Let us now consider the civil day, the solar day and the lunar day 
(i.e. tithi). The solar month does not explicitly occur in the Vedas and 
hence, it is clear that the solar day also was not in vogue. One expects the 
civil day to be mentioned in the Vedas and so it is. It is very convenient 
for civil purposes. Quotations have already been given showing that the 
sacrifices were performed with respect to civil days. 

Names of Days 

The Taittirlya Brahmana gives different names for the days and nights in 
the light and dark halves of the month. They are :-— • 

a. ST. 3- S°. \o. **. 

The 'anuvaks' (stanzas) mentioned here are given in the same Brahmana 
in one 'anuvak' at a different place. They are : — ■ 

sf?TH fwi JT^rnf *nT?fa*rR<T h wwiw sww ih , ^4+^'tt'T*t<t«r5?t w^ n 
«rqt robr sTuref tf**<j ^ n 

£. ST. 3- ?o. ?. X- 

The Vedic Period 35 

These are the names of the days (excluding nights) of the TQrvatpaksa\ 
They are 15 in number mentioned in groups of five in each line. 

" « c\ c\ 

This is a list of the names of 15 nights of a 'Purva-paksa' which stands 
for the light half as is suggested by the word Turnamasi' etc. occurring in it. 

sr?5?f faB^f tfjgjj *wi ftwwf ii smmji i^T& $w. *re«j u 

3T^°f wtt ^tVRfarPTcT ?H^?T 1 1 
These are the names of the 15 days in the 'Apara-paksa' or the dark half. 

gm gf^ft sgm H*wr*Tsfcri£T*TqT ii tfsft spit hit qfararfiraV n 
vim *?t«tt vm^nms^c^ft *flT*T§m ii 

#. st. 3. *«.' ?. ^. 3. 

These are the names of the 15 nights in the dark half. The names of 
days given in the list are used in the neuter gender while those of nights are 
in the feminine. It appears that because the word 'aha' meaning "a day" 
has the neuter gender, the names of days are in neuter gender and because 
the word 'ratri' (night) is in the feminine, the names of nights are also in the 
feminine gender. ^ 

The above line gives "Kamadugha" and not Amavasya, as the name of 
the last night of the dark half. The last night of the light half is however 
indicated by the word "Paurnamasi" itself. 

The above lines and .the references at other places show that Paurnamasi 
and Amavasya are the qualifying adjuncts of 'night' and not of 'tithi'! The 
words amavasya and paurnamasi occur quite frequently in the Taittirlya 
Samhita and the word 'tithi' does not occur at all. Hence, the two words 
cannot possibly indicate a 'tithi'. 



Nowhere in the Vedic literature the author came across the word 'tithi' in 
the sense of the 30th part of the lunar month or the time required by the moon 
to gain 12° of longitude on the sun. Even though the month is lunar, its 
30th part will be shorter than the civil day, because its length is- about 29^ 
civil days. Hence, the mean length of the tithi is shorter than a civil day and 
there is no easy and natural means to measure it, and on account of this we 
do not get in the Vedas either the true or the mean tithi in its modern sense. 

The word tithi occurs in the Bahvrica Brdhmana at some places and the 
definition of the tithi as given at one place is, 

q. 3TT. ^. ?©. 


"Tithi is that period of time during which the moon sets and rises again". 

The interval between two consecutive moonrises is longer than a civil day 
by about a "muhurta" {i.e., 48 minutes). The sun rises 29 or 30 times during 
a lunar month and the moon rises 28 or 29 times. Hence, 30 tithis according 
2 DGO/59 4 

36 History of Indian Astronomy 

to the above definition will never occur in a lunar month. We do not gfet 
this definition in other Vedas or post-Vedic literature. This shows that this 
definition was not much in vogue. It may be that the true import of the 
definition was different. In any case, the 'tithi' in the astronomical meaning 
and 'pratipad' and other tithis are found nowhere in the Vedas. But 
Purnima and Amavasya are denoted by the word "Pancadasi" meaning 15th. 

"The moon wanes on the Pancadasi night. (She) becomes full on the 
Pancadasi night 5 '. 

Since the term Pancadasi has occurred in the sense of 'fifteenth', other 
terms, such as Pratipad, Dvitiya, etc., must have been in use to denote the 
first night, the second night etc. In the beginning, these must have been used 
to denote the nights and afterwards the tithis. The terms Krsna Caturdasi, 
Krsna Pancami, Sukla Caturdasi, have occurred in the Sdrna Vidhdna 
Brahmana (see 2, 6 ; 2, 8; 3, 3). 


We come across the term 'astaka' somewhat similar to amavasya and 
purnima. The following line may be seen :— 

I1TO<ft*frnW:ll ST35TOZVT: -II ITOCWWrPH: U 

1 5TT. ?• X. \R. 

"The full moon nights are twelve, the astakas are twelve, the new moon 
nights are twelve". 

A sentence similar in meaning is found even in the §atapatha Brahmana 
( From this it appears that just as 12 full moons or 12 new moons 
occur in one year's time, so also 12 astakas occur in one year. The number 
occurring during the year is said to be 12 and not 24, From this it appears 
that 'astaka' might be the term applied to the 8th night, either of the light 
half or of the dark half of the month. The word astaka comes after the word 
Purnima in the above line. It occurs similarly in the following line : — » 

From this it seems that the 8th night in the dark half of the month must 
have been termed 'astaka'. This has been explicitly stated in the Asvaldyana 
and other Sutras :— 

In this, the 8th night of the dark half is termed 'ekastaka'. The Apas- 
tambhaSutra applies the term 'ekastaka' to the 8th night after the Maghi 

Vyastaka and Udrgta 

^mt^^WPE^^f II sqis^ixmrrT?: II 

3mFrTSm*Tt W^SlfcT 1 1 ^ps 3tTT n 

??. *T. ?. *, \o ^. 

The Vedic Period 37 

These sentences occur also in the Tdndya Brahmana (18.11.8). According 
to these lines 'Vyastaka' was the 1st night of the dark half of the month and 
Udrsta, the 1st night of the light half. 


In the Vedas we come across the belief that the phases of the moon 
increase and decrease because they are drunk by the gods. 

SR^T 5* srfq^frT 5T?T 3TT^Tm $H: H ^W H^W TfST?TT WFft HTH SfT^fa: I 

"Oh Moon ! The gods drink you, but later on you become bright again. 
The wind is the protector of the moon. Thou art the maker of samas {i.e. 
years), and of the months." 

This 'richa' is construed in the Nirukta, as applicable to the 'soma' plant 
as well as the moon. 

a. h- ^. v. \v. 

"The suns make her bright, and when she is full, they drink (devour) 
her." ■ 

The word sun is used here in the plural. It must have been so used to 
denote the 12 suns of the year. This shows that in the beginning it was 
perhaps the belief that it was the sun who brings about the increase or 
decrease of the phases. Afterwards when the word 'dditya' began to denote 
'gods', the belief that gods devour the moon must have arisen. 


The following line states in clear terms that the moon receives light from 

the sun : — ■ 3- *. vs. ?. 

The moon is here spoken of as <Surya^rasmi\ that is the on£ who 
receives rays of light from the sun. 


The following lines express the belief that the moon is seen nowhere in the 
sky on the new-moon night, because .she comes to earth and enters the 
medicinal herbs. 

*ftaww*Traf TifsrirrT*n q^rn ^wn *mf*rs vtovict srftrc* era: sn^raftw n 
y* % *>ft TT^n *^T?rro*5T maro x *#* ijm ttW T^saFf q5*T3?3 

5IW. ?TT. ?. V V. k. 


38 History of Indian Astronomy 

io^^^^rS^L^^ that the SUn and the ™>* dwell 

$. ST. Vo. H- 

bo^/S^n^^ The — * (again) 

The statement vfe. "the moon is born of the sun" refers to moon', re 
appearance m the evening of the 1st day of the light half 


The term i'darsa'* is applied to amavasya and the term l parva' is annlied 
to amavasya' and 'purnima' both. Similarly the terms ™numa™ and 1^3 
SftVff ^ tS and ^^' and .fag? to™ n „S 
*^^^^™*KS«^V32>. The/mi^fbe 

tm f g: 

<?. st. ^. ?o. *ft. s T . ^, ?0< 

^cnlT^/u-wi ( ? art of l fu11 moon ni S ht is called 'Anumati' the latter i« 
Knht- R5ka ' ^ f ° rmer (part ° f) new moon ni ^ *» 'SinS ^nd tnette 

obslr^ 1 :-^^ 8 ^* 116 ^^ branch of the Ved as also. The Nirukta 

Ore. ??. St. 

nf a^c CO w g t0 ^uktas (etymologists) Sinivali and Kuhu are the wive, 
of gods ; but according, to the sacrificers they are simply new moon nigh™ * 


^- JL at 3S, and - ^ ay ? Pura ? as speak of •*"*" as fo »ows : _: ~ 

The Vedic Period 39 


The names of the seven-days of the week are nowhere found in the Vedas 
The general term vasara' meaning <a day' occurs at two places in the Rk 
Samhita .* 

w* *r. t?. %. 30. 

"When god Indra shines in the heaven in the form of the sun, all neoole 
observe throughout the day the lustre of Indra in the form of the sun who 
possesses an inexhaustible stock of water". ' 

Sayanacarya has translated the word 'vasara' as the 'day'; he has also 
construed_ it as an adjective qualifying 'jyotih' and rendered it in two ways 
for ISm^ and (il) nivdsasya hetu bhutam (becoming a cause 


The idea that the sun increases the length of the day, or in other words 
makes the length of the day variable, occurs in the following lines :— 

+t, ;'° h + 5 01 ^ a fya! Increase the length of our lives just as the sun increases 
the length of days, which are vasara (dwellings of the world)." 

The word 'vasara' occurring here is not used to denote a day. 


One finds in the Vedas a good many references to the equinox. A passage 
■already quoted (Page 28) from Taittiriya Samhita relating to the annual 
sacrifice refers to the equinoxes. Other references to the equinoxes are given 
here, since these would be found useful in the study of the question regarding 
commencement of the year. 5 8 

Here is a quaint description :— 
<T^?TT*TE* q* q^ftsT STOft fcRltf* *fafer**m^?£*f *fan^ * 

q. *T. ?■*. $*♦ 

40 History of Indian Astronomy 

"The 'Ekavimsa' (rite) is performed on the equinox day occurring in 
the middle of the year. This 'Ekavimsa' has helped the Aditya to ascend the 
heaven. This is the same Ekavimsa. It takes place ten days before the 
'divaklrta' recitations and ten days after, and this Ekavimsa occupies the 
central place. This 'Ekavimsa' or Aditya being enclosed on two sides by ten 
(days) does not find any trouble while moving through this world. The gods 
apprehended that the sun might fall down. (They) balanced him by lending 
him a support of three heavens on this side. The three stomas (recited on 
the three 'Svarasama' days preceding the equinox) are themselves the three 
heavens. They (gods) again feared that he (sun) would fall down beyond, 
they again supported him by placing three more heavens on the other side. 
These three heavens are the (three) stomas (pertaining to the three days after 
the equinox). (On the whole) there are seventeen (stomas) on one side and 
three on the other and in the centre stands the Ekavimsa (Twenty-first)." 

The Taittiriya Brahmana also gives a very similar description (see 1, 2, 4). 
In addition to the idea of the equinox occupying the central position, it con- 
tains other notions also relating to the sun's high or low position in the sky. 

s«tt ^ $m q*r fos^fs^ sm *fa*M qw ^faT fa**?ft ^sftrT^f tt^t^t- 

q. 31. \6. ^. 

"The 'visuvan' (equinox) is like the 'purusa' ; its former half corresponds 
to the right half of the 'purusa' and the latter half to the left half of the 
'purusa'. That is why the sacrifice which continues for six months after 
the equinoctial day is termed 'uttara' (i.e. latter). The visuvan is like the 
head of (a sitting man) having left and right arms of equal length ". 

The Taittiriya Brahmana also gives a similar description in the following; 
lines : — 

s?rfa*? q^ *$: \ wtwm*: n fa*^ fen jitof u 

3. ST. X. ^. 3. 

Here is something about an animal sacrifice. It states that the year, like 
a house, has two wings (or parts) and visuvan is the central portion. 

Thus the word visuvan occurs at good many places, where it is said to 
be in the middle of the annual sacrifice or in the middle of 'parassdman' days 
which form part of it. 

Nowhere in the Vedas do we find a reference explicitly defining visuvan as 
that day on which the day and night are of equal length. It simply means 
an interlude occurring in the course of the 'satra' or l sadahas\ no matter whether 
the 'satra' continued for the whole year or for only a few days (see the Tandy a 
Brahmana 13.4.16 and the commentary thereon by Sayanacarya). There are 
only two equinoctial days in the year on which the days and nights are of 
equal length, and if the annual sacrifice is commenced on one of them, the 
second equinox will come in the middle of the sacrifice (satra). 

The Vedic Period 41 


Let us now see how the day was divided into parts according to the Vedas. 
The works on Dharma Sastra (science of religion) describe systems in which 
the day, that is the period between sunrise and sunset, is divided into 2,3,4,5 and 
1 5 parts. The two divisions of the day are the 'purvdhna (the former half) and 
the 'apardhna (the latter half) ; the three divisions are 'purvahna', 'madhyah- 
na' (noon) and 'aparahna'. In the fourfold division each part is equal to a 
'prahara' (a period of 3 hours), and are successively called 'purvahna', 
'madhyahna', 'aparahna' and 'sayahna' (evening). The five parts are named 
'pratah', 'sangava', 'madhyahna', 'aparahna' and 'sayahna* ; and lastly the 
day is also divided into 15 parts called *miihurta\ The first of these systems, 
which divides the day into two parts is a natural one and it was in vogue in 
the Vedic times. The following lines describe the system of three fold division. 

5IrT. 5TT- R. Y. ^. C* 

"The earlier part is controlled by gods, the middle one by men, and the 
latter part by the 'pitrs' (manes)". 

The names of three out of five parts have been mentioned in the following 

Here the 3 parts, 'pratah, sangava and madhyahna' have been mentioned 
by name and hence all the five parts can be inferred from them. 

%sw tffag: aw: srcre: awn ii ^qFr sro*ns5ftaTT: 11 flrwaWtf $rra*a«riB n 

STT^fHT^IrT II 5Rft fcn rfNtsW frrcftmcT II gTC WI r H iW fiwfrt: II fa^f^r 
STO: II c!?g«f tNTC*f$ II ^WTrff^5T^: ?Tm^fcT II rotftftf WfflRg II 

srTtfHTOfrmiii <f<ft%grT3***ffarf*T*Tcni rRjo n vgprMoifcc u <T?g° n 

cFJTlTTf^ ctfs<T«5 cTOfa II TORftftf *T^f?Tm II S NlH*JM ' < l ^ reT M ?T?ft Nt: 
«ftsf5R ftfrf*m?l II HtT*T° II vprcTNTr^: II mgo II dWWM TUg $*TWf ^T- 
fa^nTTS^fall ^5TrfH )^M< T ^ T^ II HT^frl «THW II cTcft %3TT 3rf?T7T?r 

f-Kwrofl ii ?TtT*t° ii *rc<jrer ht*t ii ?r?go n tromritr *tr?t *rt?f ii 

3- *T. X. \. 3. 

42 History of Indian Astronomy 

This clearly gives the names of the five parts, viz., pratah, sangava, madh- 
yahna, aparahna and say am. 

jtf??rsra it s?«r. « $.. ^. *v 

Here the names 'sangava', 'madhyamdina', and 'apara.hna v -do not seem to 
denote the parts of the day, but the transition moments of the four 'praharas' 
of the day. ' 

Madhava, in his work Kdlamddhava, while considering the five-fold division 
of the day, quotes the abovementioned anuvak from Taittiriya Brahmana and 
observes that "the passage seems to describe the creation of the four systems 
of soma-sacrifices known as 'agnistoma', 'ukthya' 'so<Jasi and 'atiratra' which 
are to be performed at the four transition moments in the five divisions 
of the day and remarks that the five- fold division of the day is found in many 
'sruti's and 'smrti's.' The line* "pradosdnto homhkdlah sangavdntah prdiah" 
occurs in the Asvaldyana Sutra shows that 'sangava' is a part of the day and 
npt a transition moment between two parts. 


The Taittiriya Brahmana states the names of 15 muhurtas (or parts) of the 
day and similar 15 of the night. __ . __ © 

am irt^ ii fare: %§??m srcim sfam sT^cnfggTfeii^H^m n 
q* t& ?rt ii q«r|jN %*$ *yj?rf: ii q^ ***• » 

£. ST- 3- ?o. §.. 

The divisions referred to in the above lines have all been mentioned in a 
single anuvak in the same Brahmana a little earlier. They are :— 

These are the names of 15 muhurtas of the day in the light half of the 
month ; each line mentions five and in all they are fifteen in number. 

?jm snrrcTTs^t mf: spto u ^g^f'Tsra^ ^55?: ^sn^: 5135: h 

3TTOW* SHT3R *TO3R *Wm «TrT: II 

- — ~~ ?r- at 3- ?*. \. ?. ^. 

♦Translation— 'The ending moment of the 'pradosa' part is the proper time for 
offering oblations into fire and the end of 'sangava* is termed 'prataljV 

The Vedic Period 43 

These are the names of the 15 miihurtas of the night* in the light half. 
3&3T sgfeT |teft jftwf ?N5T5T ; ,1 g^ ^fggt 33? 

These are the names oftoe lSJmuhurtas of the day in the dark half. 

These are the names of the 15 muhurtas of the night in the dark half. 

The whole day and night together must have been divided into 30 divi- 
sions, just as the month is divided into 30 parts. The post- Vedic works do 
mention muhurtas as parts of the day, but they do not mention the names as 
given above ; the muhurtas are found to receive different kinds of names 


^^^TntS^ 08edt0be SUb_diVided lnt ° "^ SmaU eqUal Sub \ 

3W I*!* M fTPff WWftWff II 1* *F fl% II lll^h & WJ^ftf ^f; „ 

3. 5TT. 3- $0. £. ^ 

"The muhurtas are further divided into sub-divisions called pratimuhur- 
sas ; their names being Idanim, Tadanim and others." 

The^'pratimuhu^tas" are given below : — * {\ $ ( Q 

EBB ai^sgfa&rf^n ar^r^: ^^%%553 n ^ 0o ' 3-5^r«f 


^s-re^TRT^ xiw. 11 

.™ S r. li . ne from the Narayana Upanfsad mentions "Kala and Kastha" as 
units of time in addition to the muhurtas ; and one cannot make out their " 
mutual relation or their relation with other units of time. The remaining 
parts ot the day known as ghatis and palas are nowhere to be found in the 


Let us now consider the naksatras. - A few lines from Rk Samhita are 
given below whic h contain references to naksatras, that is, not to particular ■ 

This is obvious from the context. 

44 History of Indian Astronomy 

star groups but to stars in general which are scattered all over the sky. Some 
of these mantras are found in the Atharva Samhita also. 

are w m^rit mi 3aaj sEcssgftr: n §tw fawsm u 

*E. «• ?. V- ^. 3Wf. tf. ^. ^. *\9J ^o. Y\8. ?*. 

"The stars and the night escape like thieves on the approach of the all- 
seeing sun". 

*E. tf. *o. ^. $*. 

The term 'naksatra' has been applied to the stars in the above two lines. 

In the line, "Dyauriva smayamano nabhobhih" (meaninglike the sky adorned 
with stars), the word 'nabhas' is used in the sense of stars ; the word "rocana"' 
also appears in that sense at some other places. 

sctiwt fa%<m *m& wfar saftr: n 

3t.*f. v. vs. 3. 

In these lines the word *stf has been used to denote stars. 

In the first two rcas the word 'naksatra' has been used to denote the stars 
in general and not only those stars which lie on the path of the moon. The 
term 'naksatra', as used in the post-Vedic Sanskrit works, denotes stars in 
general as well as those lying on the path of the moon. 

"The moon is placed amongst the stars". 

Here, the word naksatra seems to have been applied only to those stars 
which are situated in the moon's path. 

The Rk Samhita does not mention names of all the 27 naksatras in the 
moon's path, but only a few of them. The word ' tisya ' which occurs in 
5-54-13 and 10-64-8 appears to denote the star 'Pusya\ The name Citra 
naksatra occurs in 4-51-2 and Revati in 4-51-47 ; this appears to denote the star 
'RevatT. The next 'rca' mentions two 'naksatras' in succession. 

^. *f. ?o. t\. .\\. 

"The (dowry) of cows which was given by Savita (sun) had already gone 
ahead of Surya. They drive* the cows on the Agha (Magha) naksatra. The 
(daughter) was carried away on the Arjunl (Phalguni) star". 

♦The verbal root *han' here does not mean 'to kill*. The Marathi 'hanane' is quite 
current even at present in the Sholapur district in the sense of lashing or beating 
and driving. 

The Vedic Period 45 

This 'rca' refers to the story that Surya, the daughter of Savita, was given 
to Soma; the cows which were given to him as dowry by the Sun-god, were 
driven away one day before, i.e. on Maghanaksatra day, the daughter was- 
carried away on the Arjunl-naksatra day. 

In this <rca' the word ArjunI has been used in the 'sense of PhalgunI and 
*Agha' in place of 4 Magha\ These words are mostly absent in the post-Vedic 
literature ; there is, however, no doubt that they denote the naksatras men- 
tioned, because a variant of this very 'rca' appears in the Atharva Semhita 
as given below. 

This verse gives the actual words Magha and PhalgunI. Similarly, the 
verse viz., 

5!5T. *T. R* ?♦ ^ ??. 

This clearly shows that Arjum is identical with PhalgunI. In the Yajur- 
Veda, the word Magha is used as 'Maghasu' in plural feminine form so is 
Aghasu used here. Similarly, 'Arjunyoh' has been used like Thalgunyoh' in 
the feminine dual form. Two acts are said to have occurred here in succes- 
sion just as Magha and PhalgunI appear in succession*. This order and the 
gender and number of Agha and PhalgunI, agree with those given by the 
Taittirlya Veda and post Vedic astronomical works. This proves beyond all 
questions that the naksatra system described in the Yajur-Veda was fully 
in vogue in the Rigvedic times. 

It has been stated above that the same word, naksatra, has been used 
without distinction by Rk Samhita to denote the stars situated in the moon's 
path and also stars in general ; but at one place in Taittirlya Samhita,* we find a 
distinction made between the two. The following lines have been taken from 
the description of the horse to be offered in sacrifice. 

ti\ *T SRSTFT TOW fM %* 5lW««IT«*nft ^^ ST 3RSW 

^«TW fifTC ^T^Wrfm: 5rT<T5^s?TT: «fH f?5T: 71ST SRtaTfssiT: 

*w?ht amm 7&m: $m Tiwihr ^ arcw s renfr *tit T?*nfa. . u 

$. tf. ». h. ^** 

''He who knows the head of the sacrificial horse becomes '6lrsanvan' and 
holy. The usa (dawn) is the sacrificial horse's head. The sun is the eye, 
winds the life, moon the ears, the (four) quarters the legs, other quarters 
are the ribs ; the day and night represent the winking of the eyes, the half- 
months are knuckles and the months are the sandhana (joints); the seasons 
are the limbs, the year is the soul, the sun beams are the hair, naksatras the 
form and the stars are the bones". 

♦The words "aryamnah,.. avastat" occurring in the passage cited on the 

next page are worth considering. 

46 History of Indian Astronomy 

. A good many references to naksatras are found in the Taittirlya 3ruti. At 

some places the names of all the naksatras and those of their controlling dei- 
ties have been mentioned. At some other places we get many kinds of des- 
criptions about them, at others, is described the origin of their names, and 
at still other places, we come across casual references of intermediate stars at 

The following anuvak from Taittirlya Samhita mentions all the naksatras ; — 

I ffg^T *r«^fs^W^F^ STTOTstfg: Wt*W& ?^T *% ?3TT ^ ?3T ?TT?t «TT 

fes^n larafT /for Mwr f^s^l^nr grfesgf to^ srasft ^w?n grtTfir^ Tg^fitgt 
^t ^~7 i. *. v. v. ?o. 

The Taittirlya Brahmana gives lists of all the naksatras with their deities 
at three places ; the anuvak is- quoted below gives a quaint des- 
cription : — . -j_ 

3T«T: ffajBT: II ?m *1T?3mftfal3*?t\i{ U TOTftf 5fe°ft II 3TPT: «rron*fcr- 

enrtw??TT?r u *Ttas$«reJT formf* u <tt*?tct sPTctorarTcj u *3*s sera ii hto*t: 3 
*ma ii friq^ft ggffii 3»?tf: T^cTrcrsfaforcsrra ii 3re**r : yr qggJ Hi sttot 

srof 33? 3tto: n ^: «rc?m?aWa?a*?rra[ h fiwwf ^re reWg: n art*** 
1)<8 ^ g q^m 5^^^ mrT ii fawft: jtm^fcwfpn; u TOSTrim *«rcai?[ u *g*f 

Bf^t^n^hgf'n aih?W*i: «jOTwPf?n^«>RWij u swft |ggt it m^: 

^TT«n: II 3N^ifcT: "7^cn^^^^?TT?T H yrfqwnm %WI 3T?^: II 

The Vedic Period 


<<^ n l hls we have descri P tions of the naksatras, which are all of this pattern 
* J he -? ? J, tlk i? bdong t0 Agni ; ^ukra is on the other si de, and Jyoti is on 
this side. The rationale and purpose of describing naksatras as having one 
thing on this side and another thing on that side are not fully understood 
It appears that the things mentioned here are in reference to the henefic and 
malefic results relating to naksatras in some cases and to their forms in some 
others. The lines referring to Phalguni in this passage is very similar to the 
rca quoted from the Rigveda above. Again, the Sentence VX/J Kr 

qToTedTuX^on * ^^ ° n AnurMha nak?atra has b «* 

Xt^XSS^ ' Pl ° Ughman ' '«~ * ^etnfSon 

The names of all the naksatras and their deities, and some quaint and 

interesting legends about the naksatras are found in the TaittirL Brahmana 

Astaka 3, prapathaka 1 and 2 but these anuvaks cannot be cited There foT want 

of space. They do not specifically mention the deities of ^naksatras bu^he 

relation of the deities with the naksatras is in some way suggested in such 

« It aS - » 8 ?\ nab P r dtU K r»W' (May Krttikas and Agfi protect S 

ArdrayaRudrabprathamdnametr {i.e. Rudra becomes famous on accoun 

A^^J imi ^ T h a11 the nak ?^tras with their deities have been mention! 

very Wthv '" The \T "~t * ,° f ** *V°* ^*^' These anuvS Z 

ffiS^an2ri?^Sd b°e n C-I atra ' ^ ^ *» SOme idea about 

V^HVV M %* II tfe ^ftr II tgcia* Wl$l.fe«qm ^T^T II W^ 
tfR ^TT^ffT II 

£. 5TT. 3- ?• *. V 

to B?h-a\ a n?tfL^T ed ^ be 'holy through spiritual knowledge. 'He offered 
to Brhaspati and Tisya (Pusya) a 'charu' (oblation) of <nivd* (rice* in milk 
Because of this he became holy. He whd offers this oblation in a acrtfce": 

mznZf'ZTl*/ b f C Tr h °^ ; whi l^off-n g the oblation he chanTstne 
mantra An offering to Brhaspati, an offering to Tisya, an offering to holy- 

_ The naksatras and their deities have thus been mentioned in four places 

o ™ efc^ift- # endef and , nUmber have been shown ^ ^e P table 
Sfn P a l 8 ««t I J Q Terences, if any, regarding the names and deities 

success on^L fnnr b T n ^ dlcat ? d b * nUmberS *> 2 > 3 and 4 which d ^ote in 
S^Saf «SSn? »»? l^i m WhlCh th6y ? CC H r ' No numbers ^e given to those 
Sfo If ,vf -i 5 1Ch th t ere 1S unammit Y in all the four places The word- " 

^o^^JS? the /aittiriya Sarhhita shows that the genders andTum- 
oers ot naksatras mentioned in it are the same as those given in other places 

ing Unes 1 !^ 1 " 38 mentioned b ? Atharva S£lft hita are as given in the follow. 

History of Indian Astronomy 

^ *gar ^ reresft ^ *t 3it i» rfW 2*2 an g^?§ 11 ^ 11 

1 being desirous of welfare, worship the heaven With speeches became ?R 
nS^ arran^KS 3 

Sruti has mentioned Abhijit naksatra in two out of four^places but Nowhere 
does it mention whether the naksatras are 27 or 28 The SatoSalS? 

SfiaS TH 0ne b PlaC 1 e ^W* the naLtJa's^relrind 

KSp? rt ?l-^ ^° Ve - lm ? fr ° m Atharva Saihhita a PP ear t0 h ave 
used the name Krttika m the singular number. The Mrgasiras and Pusva 

^ifSST^ as j« ah and «*««* (in masculintSer), the word 
Svati has been used as Svati ending short i, and appear! to be mascXne 

It£r™^<f S the second- vowd short and^used inkT^Z 
number The word Sravana' has been used (in place of Srona) while the 
name Bharam ij changed to Bharanyah. These are the poM^of dffl^^! 
between the Atharva Samhita and Taittirlya gruti ; but otherwL the two 
cllnVh^f 11 a S reement : The *»**» and "numbers 'of BQiSrfS^atoS 

"£* i^flT n TT ed - h ? one may presume thatthe y are thK 

The wlrd^ , - her - C \ S ' however, some doubt about the Prosthapada. 
l be words Vicrtau noma tarake", occurring at some places (2 8 1 "3 7 1\ 
appear to refer to the naksatra Mula. P l ' * '* 4) 

Naksatras mentioned by the Taittirlya Sruti :— 


Name of Naksatra 

The controlling 


Nurr ber 

1 Krttika 

2 RohinI 

3 (1,3, 4) Mrgasirsa 

(2) Invaka 

4 (l,3,4)Ardr a 

(2) Bahu 



. Agni 
• Prajapati 
. Soma 

. Rudra 

9 9 

. Aditi 
. Brhaspati 
. Sarpa 

Feminine Plural 









The Vedic Period 



Name of Naksatra 

The controlling 




Magha . 





(1,3, 4) Phalguni . 


j » 


(2) PQrva Phalguni 





(1,3, 4) Phalguni . 




(2) Uttara Phalguni . 

• »s 




Hasta . . . 






. (l,2)Indra 



(3, 4) Tvasta 




(l)Svatl . 




. (2, 3, 4) Nistya . 

• 99 

9 9 




. Indragni 





. Mitra 





. Indra 



(3,4)Jyesth a 

* " 




(1) Vicrtau . 

. Pitr 



(2) Mala Barhani 

. Nirrti 



(3) Mula . 

* ? j 


* J 

(4) Mula . 

. Prajapati 




(1,3,4) Asadha . 

. Apah 



, (2) Pfirvasadha . 

• 9 9 




(1,3, 4) Asadha . 

. Visvedeva * 


J J 

(2) Uttarasadha . 

• *9 


9 J 

19A (3,4)Abhijit . 

. Brahma 





. Visriu 





. Vasu 





• (1,2) Indra 



(3, 4) Varuna 




(1,3,4) Prosthapada 

. Ajaekapad 



(2) Purva Prosthapada 

■ 99 

9 9 



(1,3, 4) Prosthapada 

. Ahirbudhniya 



(2) Uttara Prosthapada* 

* i> 

• > 


50 History of Indian Astronomy 

Name of Naksatra 

The controlling 





- PQsa 





, Asvin 




Apabharani * 

. Yama 



The derivation of the word naksatra has been given by Taittiriya Brahmana 
in the following lines : — 

sraTgnrr »ra swm^g: ti ?taifa*sr: n swrrefi u 

This, in short, appears to mean that those which are not 'Ksatra' (movable) 
are Naksatras. The Nirukta, explaining that the term naksatra is_ derived 
from its quality of being movable and adds that according to the Brahmanas. 
the naksatras are so called because they are not 'Ksatra' (i.e. movable). The; 
Taittiriya Brahmana at another place writes as follows : — 

*\m m TO?ITT^T U »W5T^ II tWTWrt mWT II tft STT %% **& II 
3R *T HW W& U TOW»n«rt 5W^ II l*TOI $ WNfar II * ^ %? II 

f^ II- 31TOVra#cT II **3TT *mT| jp& II ST^fa cRT II 

a. 5TT. ?• *. ^. 

"There was water in the centre. The tarakas (stars) are said to possess 
the property of tarakatva (protectivenes^) because they floated and saved 
themselves. He who performs a sacrifice here goes (naksate) to that world. 
Hence is the 'naksatra' significantly so called. They are the houses of gods. 
He who knows this becomes the owner of a house. The naksatras are the 
images of the earthly objects. Hence a rite should not be allowed to ter- 
minate and a sacrifice should not be performed on an ugly naksatra ; it 
gives the same result as a rite performed on an inauspicious day". 

These lines are very important as the derivation of the word tar aha appears 
more to be quibbling, but the second derivation which traces the word to the- 
root"naksa" (to go) and the notion that the virtuous in this world should 
ascend the heaven and become naksatras, is noteworthy. Several nations- 
of the world might be cherishing this belief. The idea that the naksatras are 
houses of gods is very important. Here, what can the word 'deva' stand for 
other than the shining planets, actually moving through the stars? The notion 
that the naksatras are the houses (grhas) of gods suggested the derivation 
that what holds {grhndti) a house is a (graha) planet and thus the word graha 
(planet) seems to have been applied to resplendent gods like Venus etc. 

Looking to the derivation of the word naksatra that they are the images: 
or pictures of the earth or earthly objects, it appears that the naksatras must 
have derived their names from their resemblance to particular figures. But 
some naksatras seem to have received their names for other reasons* 

The Vedic Period 51 

Let us, therefore, see the origin of each naksatra's name as given by the 
Vedas. The names Punarvasu, Citra, Magha and RevatI out of the 27 names 
of the naksatras, did not originally indicate naksatras but were used in a 
different sense in the Rk Samhita. They are quoted here for a better under- 
standing of the naksatra names : — 

5C«. 1°. . u- ?. 

Sayanacarya explains the terms Punarvasu as l punah punarvastarau stotjua- 
macchadayitarau (devau)' meaning "the two gods who repeatedly give shelter 
to those who offer prayers". It is worth remembering that this word is used 
in the dual form like the star-name Punarvasu. 

These lines suggest that 'Citramagha' means "one having wonderful 
wealth". Yaska has rendered the word as a 'store of wealth to be used for 

The term 'RevatI' means one 'possessing wealth'. The following quotations 
may be seen for this sense : — 

^q*n?^<ft ^?ftfT«frf«r *?tosr <ra*n* ifr*^ n 

Some of the words in these four have been used in the above mentioned 
or similar sense in some other places. This shows that the words Punar- 
vasu, Magha, Citra and Revati while already current in the spoken language 
might have been applied to particular naksatras later on, and it can be inferred 
tnat these must have been so applied to different naksatras, because of their 
loveliness, their munificence, etc., these qualities being either actually noticed, 
imagined or experienced about them. The same thing could be said about 
some other naksatras also. 

/-aiJu 6 A ? ar n f> ra Brahmana contains a strange legend about Rohini 
(.Alaebaran) Mrga (Lambda Ononis) and Mrga Vyadha (Sirius) which gives 
tne reasons for these appelations and hence it is given below :— 

2DGO/59 ° * 5 


History of Indian Astronomy 

m " P ( aj f u pati M J u lo r for his own daughter-the sky, some say the usa 

(dawn) others. She became a rohit i.e. a deer. He became a Vi?'( t wh& 

footed antelope) and went up to her. The gods saw him and (began to remark) 

Prajapati !S now doing a deed improper'. They sought one whc ^ would 

punish him ; but they did not find any one among them Then thev brought 

together in one place their most dreadful forms. Broi^ttto«2to?hSj 

became a deity, therefore his name contained the word Bhm He was 

hen born who knows thus his name. To him the gods said, 'Prajapati here 

hath done a deed unknown, pierce him'. 'Be it lo\ he replied ^Let me 

choose a boon from you'. /Choose' (they said). He chose this boon 'The 

over lordship of cattle'. Therefore does his name contain the word "cattle'' 

He who thus knows his name becomes rich in cattle. Having aimed at him' 

h e pierced him being pierced he flew upwards, him they call the 'deer' tS 

Robin' Th* frV* ^° f %* n u ame (Mrgavyadha). The female deer is 
Rohini. The (Tnkanda) is the three pointed arrow." 




* o 



* * * 




The Vedic Period 53 

In this figure ten stars have been shown in the Orion group. The group 
of three stars appearing in a straight line and situated in the middle are known 
as Trikantfa Bana or three-pointed arrow. The four stars around it are the 
four feet of the antelope, and the small cluster of three stars to the north of 
all these stars is known as the Mrgaslrsa (head of the antelope) 

Many more small stars can be seen near these stars in the sky. All these 
stars together are called the Orion by European astronomers. A look at 
all the stars in the figure will show that the stars RohinI, Mrga and Mrga- 
slrsa must have derived their names from the figures of the star-groups. Again, 
A-hen these clusters after having risen in the east, begin to move towards the 
west, it appears as if the Mrga (the antelope) is chasing RohinI (the deer) 
and Vyadha (hunter) is chasing the antelope, and the legend of RohinI and 
Prajapati might have been suggested by this scene. 

The Taittirlya Brahmana (1.1. 10) gives the legend of RohinI and Praja- 
pati in a slightly different form. The purport of the legend is :— 

Prajapati created 'praja' (people). In so doing, the virat (Universe) was 
created from his semen. Gods and demons received it. Prajapati said k She 
is mine'. She flew to the east. Prajapati followed her. She thus ran for 
protection from place to place. In the end it is remarked :— 

"She then ascended (the heaven). Hence, she came to be known as RohinI. 
bhe got this name RohinI, because she ascended heavenward. One should 
light fire on the 'RohinI' naksatra". 

The star got the name RohinI because she ascended heaven. The origin 
ot the word RohinI has been given at another place as follows :— 

flWtfpV Ttfjffiw* H T^iqWf^T^ U JEKftm 11 wd% fr^w htfx 11 

£. *i. ?. ?: ^. 

The Taittirlya Brahmana describes the origin of names of some other stars 
also as m the following verse : 

%*t # tot: tfatffcnrrfeRtfir 11 ftwrn^arf^Ttfta n ^4vtft ww wmwwi 11 ^ 

* *^Ww*nssfr?r 11 5^H?f ww wfqw?f ft 11 to> TOfa n 

#. *t. K- *• R. 

., . <<T _ he £° ds . when in good condition desired to light sacrificial fire. (But) 
their fire remained unhghted, and because of this, their precious wealth left 
tffem. They commenced a sacrifice on Punarvasu naksatra. The wealth 
again came back to them." 

Other ideas based on the words 'Punah' (again) and 'Vasu' (wealth) can be 
seen at two or three other places. 

54 History of Indian Astronomy 

the loLMig£*L nameS ° f Anuradha > J y e ?tha etc. has been described m 

■jftftr II *|«l«m$ft^ff II rHWWT: II WT>TC U ?R®hn T II W&pfr^ It 
ST^tST: II *r^TrfW*3iH II ?T5fKTf^ || -S^OT***^ II ^m^a It 

?f . *T. ?. *. R. 
'jjfR whi !f wwunenting on this, remarks that it was the statement 
2t? "J. vn g H°S *?? r 5 e / e e° e to „ their battle with the de ™>ns. . . . (gods 
X?t ic k /i Cd hC ddeS i °f them a11 on the J y e ?tha naksatra (day) and 
that is why the star is to be known as ' Jyesthaghnf . . etc." 

r^Z h nF n Z t tar !i 0f th 5 ^°? St f ation of Hasta P resent the appearance of the 

ftlw? 11 ^ ^ ? 1S Cl ? r that the S rou P of stars mu ^ have received 
the name Hasta (hand) from this resemblance. 

Vr J- hC 7 ait u*~T- Brahma na has conjured up the vision of naksatriya (stellar) 
Prajapati which is noteworthy. * * v ' 

fa*T OsR: II ftc^T ^ II 3J^ f^im II Srfa«SFT?TOT: II q* t Hvfam 

sT^sTnTTcT : u 

3. ST. ?. *. ^. ^ 

tu " He J ho ^ ows the naksatriya Prajapati knows him as related to both 
the worlds. The star Hasta is his hand, Citra his head, Nistya (Svatfi his 
heart, the two V sakha stars his thighs, Anuradha the place to stand 1 upon! 
This is the naksatriya Prajapati". p 

*u E l en a V^ e P r< r sent , da y the description appears to agree if we look up to 

tJl ^ ^ ag T tha i th ^ fi § we is formed of a ma * having raised [ one 
?n^ 12 °T slde A b ^ve his head. Only the star Svati does not seem to fit 

E«« tw ^5 the ^ eart ,* The pr °P er motion of tW s star is far greater 
han that of others. Therefore, the description must have been true some- 
time in a very remote past. e 

The grammatical number in which the naksatra names are used is help- 
ful as an indication of the number of stars in each group. The Mrgasirsa 
group, inc hiding the stars representing the head, constat? of a good many 
stars and is called Mrgasirsa. Similarly all the stars of the Hasta g?oup 
wit, ? ether t- reCe, p e . d l 5 e a PP ellat ion Hasta. Thus, though Mrgaslrsf and 
Sf™ k ar % s P° ken °/ in the singular number they are actually composed of a 
number of stars. As mentioned above the alternative name for Mrgasirsa is 
•/««,*«*• which is in the plural number. The following ten ouf of Ihe 
remaining naksatras are used in the singular. 

and^vai. Ardr5 ' Ti?ya ' Citra ' SvatI ' Jy6 " ha ' Mtila ' &°**> ^abhisak 

P Ph^L^^/p^ i ach - {^- e ^ nak ] at /as must be a single star. Punarvasu 
L S l S i ' V u Phal 8 um > V |« akh a and Asvayuja-these five stars are used in 
the dual number ; hence they must have two stars each. The remaining 

The Vedic Period ' 55 

naksatras viz. Krttika, Aslesa, Magha, Anuradha, P. Asadha, U. Asadba, 
Sravistha, P. Prosthapada, U. Prosthapada and Apabharanf, these 10 nak- 
satras are used in the plural. Therefore, each of them must have more than 
two stars. The Krttikas, out of them, contained seven stars as can be seen 
from the following lines : — 

stem **t^t i*rri *^t ii fa^e^t **T§Twr>4 ^st^t ti 
Slqtfrt s^i^t w?* nt$ n ^gnftaw ^t^t ii 

These are the lines from the Krttikesti (sacrifice to Krttika) a part of nak 
satresti. The names of seven stars are — 

Amba, Dula, Nitatnl, Abhrayanti, Meghayanti, Varsayanti and Cupu- 

That the Sravistha group consisted of four stars may be seen from 

bereft ^k*RT: *TfspssT : II 

The following quotation from Taittiriya Brahmana (3. 1. 2.), shows that tbe 
Prostapada group had also four stars. 

n- *x. 3. ?. ^. 

According to the following lines in the Satapatha Brahmana none of the 
star grups other than the Krttikas had more than four stars ; or at any rate 
none of them had more stars than the Krttikas. 

"Other naksatras have one, two, three, or four only, these Krttikas have 

The number of stars in the naksatras and their deities mentioned in the 
post-Vedic astronomical works will be compared with those in the Taittiriya 
Sruti later on in Part II. 

The Vedas specially refer to certain stars in addition to the 27 well known 
stars : — 

"These Bears* which appear to be placed at high elevation (in the sky) at 
night, go away somewhere in the day." 

The Satapatha Brahmana observes 

5T. *t. ^. t. 3. v. 

*The Saptarsi group has received the name as the Great Bear in European astronomy- 

56 History of Indian Astronomy 

"The Saptarsis were called bears in ancient times" 

There is a reference to the seven stars (Saptarsis) in Tan dya Brahmana 
(1.5. 5.) which is as follows : — 

fltalT. S. X. VC. 

"Worship the seven sages (appearing) above." 

In Taittirlya Brahmana we come across the following lines in which some 
reference to the star Citra occurs after the suggestions that sacrifice should be 
commenced on the Krttika naksatra. 

^h u jiyftsrat ii aft feaflr ssnrwreat ii 

3. ?TT. ?. ?. ^ 

From this it is clear that the words "The two which went up became 
divine dogs" refer to some two stars or clusters of stars, 

5Rt fear** SRT^TT & SftWT fW? II R II * ** *WV*T f¥% %*? I «T 

f«rm: n awwi^ &m u 

This refers to a divine (celestial) dog and three god-like Kalakcmja (demons) 
stars in the sky. 

sft a 5*n*ft *T TfacTTTl *§*at qfrraft sf^Rft 

* ?c. *Y. H- 

This refers to two dogs. Even the Atharva Samhita (18. 2. 12) gives this 
mantra with the variant reading "Pathisadi nrcaksasa" for the last two words. 

There are two star clusters on either side of the Milky Way situated to 
th.3 east of Mrga constellation. They are known as Canis Major and Canis 
Minor in European astronomy. The first group contains Sirius, one of the 
brightest stars. The second group contains the pair of southern stars out of 
the four stars of Punarvasu. It seems these two clusters are the two dogs 
mentioned in the Vedas. 

?£. *f. %o. $■$. $o. 

This rca refers to the celestial boat. The Atharva Samhita (7. 6. 3) 
gives this mantra as "Daivlm. . gasom asm..". 

The Vedic Period 57 

Even this mantra from the Atharva Samhita- mentions a celestial golder 
boat; the word 'Pusya' in this appears to have some connection with the star 
Pusya. A constellation situated close south of Punarvasu and Pusya is called 
Navis (Nau or a boat) in the European astronomy. This appears to be the 
Nau of the Vedas. 


Let us now see what other astronomical references can be gleaned from 
the Vedas. Here is a passage from the Rk Samhita which mentions an 

1*?S *J5 *nmw«ta g<lvvr varans firaf*: n \ 11 
nwifinc a* *r>w* * tot snft fwrcn fsnnfcr 1 » 

3*1=*,- sift* f?rf% ^agrom tsroftftqirTm smm n ■* n 

"(5) Oh god Sun! When the demon Rahu (moon's ascending node) engul- 
fed you with darkness, all the worlds so appeared that people living in them 
were unable to know where they stood. 

(6) Oh Indra ! You destroy the illusions of 'svarbhdnu' (Rahu) which are 
found to exist under the sky. The sage Atri got back the Sun who was engulfed 
by the impious darkness by means of the fourth Brahma. 

(7) Oh sage Atri ! May that malicious demon desirous of devouring food 
not devour me with that dreadful darkness. You are a friend and truth is 
your riches. May you and god Yaruna protect me here. 

(8) The sage Atri, after selecting the 4F grava_£stone) for extracting some juice 
lor gods and after offering prayers and salutations to them, dispelled the 
illusions of Rahu and set his eye on the Sun's light (i.e. remained watching till 
the Sun became free from darkness)*. 

(9) Atri alone could restore the Sun whom the demon Rahu had engulfed 
with darkness and no one else could do it." " 

There are two or three important points in this description. The first 
thing to note is that this description of Ihe eclipse does not reflect a highly 
panic-stricken mood. Solar eclipses are quite frequent, but only a few of " 
them are visible at a particular place ; and even out of these few, the total 
solar eclipse is quite rare. In England, a total solar eclipse was observed on 
. March 20, 1140 A.D. and the next one followed as late as 22nd April, 1715 A.D. 
which shows that no total solar eclipse was observed during the intervening 
575 years. In India, the total solar eclipses do not occur at such long intervals • 
nevertheless, they are likely to occur once or twice in one's life time. It is clea r 

*Sayanacarya has translated the third lire in a different way and his renderign of the other 
p arts of the passage also is slightly different. 

58 History of Indian Astronomy 

that the 'rcas' quoted above describe a total eclipse of the sun, still the des- 
cription does not betray a high degree of amazement or horror. This shows 
that in those times eclipses had become quite familiar and the dread of that 
phenomenon had lost much of its edge* Secondly, what are we to under- 
stand from the remark that *' the Atris alone could restore the sun and no 
one else could do it" ? This perhaps shows that only the members of the 
Atri family and no one else had the knowledge of the solar eclipse. And 
what is meant by no one else had that knowledge ? Even a child knows it 
when an eclipse begins. But even then we are told that Atri alone was able 
to liberate the sun. This means that Atri alone knew when the eclipse would 
end and no one else had that knowledge which Atri possessed. This shows 
that the descendants of the Atri family had at least some knowledge of eclipses, 
if not, the most accurate knowledge necessary for predicting the exact moment 
of the beginning and ending of an eclipse just as the ancient Chaldeans knew 
that the eclipses recur with every cycle of 6586 days or 223 lunar months. 

Thirdly, though the wish is once expressed in these Rks that Rahu may 
not devour the sun, it is said three or four times that Rahu engulfed the sun 
in darkness, which means that Rahu and darkness are regarded as two differ- 
ent things. A quotation regarding the belief that the moon enters the sun 
on the new moon day has already been given from the Aitareya Brahmana. 
It appears from this that even though the true cause of a solar eclipse might 
not have been known at the time of the eclipse mentioned above, one may 
safely say that the popular beliefs of those times had a leaning towards the 
knowledge of the true causes. The notion that Svarbhanu or Rahu devours 
the sun must have gained ground at a later date. 

The Tandy a Brahmana refers to eclipses at five places (4.5.2 ; 4.6.13; 
6.6.8 ; ; 23.16.2), in which the 'Svarbhanu' is described as attack- 
ing the sun with darkness. In two places (6.6.8 ; 14.11.14, 15) out of five, the 
sage Atri is said to have removed the darkness by 'bhasa' (lustre) ; in the 
remaining three places, gods are said to have removed the darkness ; but even 
in those places, the word 'gods' appears to mean the sun's rays. In Gopatha 
Brahmana (8.19), the 'svarbhanu' is described as having attacked the sun by 
means of 'tama' (darkness) and Atri is said to have driven away that 'lama'. 
According to a description in the Satapatha Brahmana ( the 'Svar- 
bhanu' is said to have attacked the sun with 'tarna' but Soma and Rudra are 
said to have removed that darkness. 


Let us now see what the Vedas have to say about planets. It need not be 
told that of the nine planets, the Sun and the Moon together share 
hundreds of references in the Vedas. Rahu and Ketu are not visible planets 
at all. Therefore, the remaining five are the only real planets belonging to the 
sdar system. But the author did not come across any reference in the Vedas 
in which something is explicitly said about all or any of the five planets. There 
is, however, ample scope for inference. 

The Vedic Period 59 

"These mighty five (gods) are seen in the middle of the vast expanse of the 
sky. Even though they are seen coming together when I compose hymns in 
honour of gods, they have all gone away to-day ". 

In this, the word 'gods' does not actually occur. But there is no doubt 
that the context requires the insertion of the word. The mighty five are said 
to be coming together. The five planets, Mars and others, are seen verv 
rarely simultaneously in the sky. 

Similarly, Mercury and Venus can never be visible in the middle of the 
sky. Hence, 'divah madhye' is simply to be rendered as in the sky. AH the 
planets are at some times visible at night except when one or two planets are 
heliacally set. The original Vedic gods were none other than the wonders 
of nature, actually visible luminous orbs and so on. Even the root meaning 
of the word deva' is "one who shines". There are no five 'gods' known 
as panca deva', just as 'two gods' stand for the 'ASvins' and '33 gods' stand 
for twelve Adityas and other deities. 

The word 'pancadeva' occurs also at another place (10.55.3) of the Rk 
Samhita. Hence, the word can be rendered as five planets. It has, already 
been stated above that "naksatras are homes of gods". This statement also 
lends support to my view, and these very quotations show that the people 
had some knowledge of planets in the Vedic age. 

In these days people of all ages very well recognize the planets Jupiter 
and Venus and particularly Venus. It appears in the east continuously 
for some days early morning and then in the west in the evening. It 
appears m the morning in the east for about 9 months in every span of 20 
months. It seems hardly possible that such a bright object as Venus which 
is visible in the east for about nine months out of twenty and which is bound 
to attract the attention of all, failed to be a source of joy and wonder to the 
ancient Rsis who used to awake up and bathe early before dawn and start their 
sacrificial rites ; and that the Rsis failed to note that it had a motion of its 
own, quite different from that of other stars— that it was a planet in astro- 
nomical parlance. 

They had really noticed this fact at the very time when the most ancient 
Vedic hymns were composed and had accordingly invested Jupiter and Venus 
with divinity. We are inclined to think that the conception of Asvins as twin 
gods probably owes its origin to the two planets Jupiter and Venus. Venus 
appears in the east early morning for about 9 months out of every 20 ; and 
almost on every such occasion Jupiter is seen near it for about 2 to 3 months, 
and in these months it is seen very close to Venus for a few days. Later on, 
Venus being the faster of the two, Jupiter is seen lagging behind to its west, and 
is seen rising eerlier than Venus every day, and this continues till Jupiter is 
found to be on the point ot setting in the west just when Venus is rising in the 
east ; Jupiter is thus seen to have traversed the whole sky. It was perhaps " 
sometime when Jupiter and Venus were seen together that Asvinhood was 
lanciiully conferred on them. Again, when it was seen that Venus for ever 
remains close to the sun while Jupiter is wandering through the sky the observa- 
tion must have found expression in the following couplets*. 

M oJ*t e ^ ol,ow l ng . n P„ te was added at lhe time * hen tnis Part of the book was first written 
on 30th December 1887. (See next page) 

60 History of Indian Astronomy 

"Oh Asvins ! You have kept one lustrous wheel of your chariot near the 
sun for adorning him and you revolve round the world by the second wheel. 

Of these remarks, the first one viz., 'you have kept the lustrous wheel near 
the sun' very fittingly applies to Venus and the second viz., 'you revolve 
round the world by* the second wheel' applied to Jupiter equally fittingly. 

The Nirukta includes Asvins in the list of celestial deities. The time 
prescribed for offering prayers to them was after midnight. The dawn 
(Osa) was always associated with the Asvins in some way or the other .in 
the" hymns addressed to them in the Rigveda. Habitually rising with the 
lark, our ancient Rsis were bound to feel the attraction of the sky. 

These facts lend support to our surmise and all things considered, we feel 
convinced that the "Twin Asvins" were originally none else than the planets 
Jupiter and Venus. 

We come across an independent reference showing that Jupiter was 
known to be a planet. 

^*qfcr: s«m wmx*t *$ vzftm: *reifr afar* h 

"Jupiter was first born in the highest heaven of shining light." 

" This sentence occurs also in Taittiriya Brahmana (2.8.2). The idea con- 
veyed therein seems to be that Jupiter is a god in the form of a star. The 
Taittiriya Brahmana Turther says :— • 

#. it. 3. \- *• 

"Jupiter when born was first visible near the star Tisya (Pusya)". 

The maximum latitude of Jupiter is 1° 30'. Hence, there are only 6 out 
of 27 naksatras viz., Pusya, Magha, Visakha (Alpha Libra), Anuradha, 
Satabhisak'and Revati with whom Jupiter can form a close conjunction. Some- 
times Jupiter and the star Pusya are so closely conjoined that they together 
appear to be one body. The idea of Jupiter having been born near Pusya star 
might have arisen when Jupiter was seen emerging from such occultations. 
Evidently this would call for the knowledge of Jupiter's motion, that is to say, 
the knowledge that Jupiter was a 'wandering star' or planet. The presiding 
deity of Tisya is Brhaspati. Even now the conjunction of Jupiter and Pusya 
is regarded as the most auspicious. 

Contd. from previous page . . 

Venus rose heliacally in the east on 26th September and Jupiter rose m the east on 2lst 
November. The two, therefore, began to be seen in the eastern sky before dawn from 21st 
November. Now they are being seen very near together for the last 2 or 3 days. They 
will come nearest to each other after about two days, i.e. on 2nd January 1888, that is to say 
they will be in conjunction. About 1st of June, while Venus will still te seen rising in the 
east, Jupiter will be seen on the point of setting in the west, and after a few days Venus will 
disappear in the east. A gentleman who had no knowledge of astronomy, pointed out to 
me, of his own accord, early in the morning that two planets were situated near each other. 
It is not, therefore, possible that the attention of our ancient sages was not drawn to Jupiter 
and Venus in the same way when they conjoined. — The Author 

the Vedic Period 61 


The hymn " this Vena has risen etc. " is sung in honour of the deity 
known as Vena. The description in this hymn naturally suggests that it 
refers to some bright celestial body, that is, to a star or planet ; and descrip- 
tions found elsewhere in the Vedas further show that it refers to Venus The 
vessels used for storing Soma juice during a sacrifice are called grahas Thev 
are so called because they 'take iii' i.e., store the Soma juice. When the sac- 
rifice is in progress the juice is first placed in the graha and then oblations 
are offered thereof which are called grahas. Two planets Venus and 'Manthi' 
are referred to in the Agni-stoma sacrifice. The Satapatha Brahmana 
makes observations about them as below : 

.frwqwfrm q* *«ft n?ii s*m |% sra* 3%* gffir i am **Rte*- 

SfTflrfrf?* II c; II 

5T?T. 9TT- *• ^. \. 

"Sukra (Venus) and Manthi are his eyes. The bright shining body is the 
same as Sukra, He is called 'sukra' because he shines. The Moon herself is 
Manthi. Some recite the F.ea "Ayam Venascodayat" in the beginning 
while offering prayers to Sukra. The 'jyoti' is said to be 'jarayu'. 

Its appearance may be described by the words 'he who burns'. 

These lines show that Vena and Venus (Sukra) are the same ; here the 
moon is called the manthm ; but there is also a convention of taking Manthin 
to mean Saturn. 

Sukra is called Venus in Latin. Kupros is the Greek form of Sukra. 

The Greeks regarded Venus as female deity and hence, the word tdok the 

form Kupns and its corresponding Latin fcrm is Cypris ; thus Venus and 

Kupris or Cypns are equivalents ; and they resemble the words 'Venah" 

and 'Sukrah' in form* . 

It appears from this that Venus was known to the Aryans from the time 
the Greeks and other European Aryans and the Indian Aryans were living 
together. & 

3. *f. ?. ^ *. 

'm Soma Krayani ! You are Vasvi (i.e. Vtsu and other deities) ; you 
are Rudra, Aditi and Aditya ; you are Sukra and Candra. Mav Brhaspati 
bestow happiness upon you in this region ." " ' 

This is addressed to the Cow who is given away in exchrnre cf Sorra 
juice. Aditya is one related^to Aditya ; this is used in feminine^gender be- 
cause it qualifies the cow. Sukra and Candra are similar feminine forms ; 
here also the word Sukra appears to refer to Venus. 

*This resemblance was suggested to the author by Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak. 

62 History of Indian Astronomy 

From this it is clear that at the time of the composition of Atharva Veda 

<<\k ^ gFa - a haS COme f ? be appl - ied to some celestial bodies. The words 
May the candramasa graha and Aditya graha along with Rahu prove aus- 

V1 iT t0 J?" f em t0 , refer to the P lanets ecli P*4 the sun and moon • 
and the additional remark "May the planets moving in fhe sky bring harness 
to you" appears to have been made with reference to planets such as Venus 

The German Professor Weber* who is of opinion that the Hindus have 

teh^r 11 ^ ^f'T f l° m the Bab y^ans declares that it appears 
from the names of planets that the Hindus discovered them independently. 

On the whole we feel that the Indian people had the knowledge of the 
planets Venus and Jupiter in the Vedic age ; and if this be true! it : § not im- 
probable that they might have had some knowledge also of Mars who sonS- 

C eS a a nTn a /tf *f ght aS ^ Upit f' r ° ° f Mercuf y who alwa ? s remaios nearThe 
Sun, and of the slow moving planet Saturn. 


^JunT^^T* from atharva Samhita (19.9) given above contain the 

Si £2? Kfr ™i Dhi i maketu fComets) " Varahamihira has exten- 
sively dealt with the results of a meteor striking against a star. 

for doS in an h thTn diC ^ Pe ° Ple bdieved that an aus P jcI '™s time is necessary 

. "Vipra (intelligent) [Varuna] established the reciter of hymns in an aus- 
picious day, after expending the passing days and nights ". 

The Taittiriya Sruti contains good many instructions for performing the 
a jnyadhan and other rites on particular naksatras and some of them have 

bek>w^-T Cn glV£n ln SOme C ° nteXt ° r ° ther * Some more are S iven 

3rf*?ta «f»m S3 *7orjtf?T *R fmsfo 

Z.X.%. ?. V. V. 

rite"° n ^ " Se ° f nak?atras he bre ^s his silence saying 'perform a particular 

re^JLaf t k "° W? l th f * ? e W r rks ° n Dhar masastra abound in instructions 
regarding certain rites to be performed till the rise of naksatras and in beliefs 
th at certain p ersons become purified at the sight of naksatras. 

*See Weber's History of the Indian Literature, Page 251. ~ 

The Vedic Period 63 

£. *t. ?. ?. ^. 

a. *t. ?. *. v 
*ri qnrim f f^cR ftrarrenf*f<r h at fat^trot rora^ 11 fsrosc v^fa n 

(i) "He who is desirous that his progeny should be generous, should com- 
mence a sacrifice on the Purva PhalgunI day ; because, the Purva Phalguni 
naksatra belongs to aryama (sun). He who gives away on this naksatra comes 
to be known as 'aryama'. His progeny has a charitable disposition." 

(ii) "Whatever good rites you have to perform, do them on divine naksa- 
tra days, because they are auspicious days." 

(iii) "If you wish that your daughter should be dear to her husband, 
marry her on the 'Nistya' (i.e., Svati) naksatra day." 

qVrc argrerfa n *H<jt <scfa 11 *to«h fsrem amr?* n ^towt ir*i% ii 

3nfe?q TRSTrr II 

£. 5TT. ?. «;. V. 

It appears from the remark 'aslila ndmamscitre ' (on page 50) that 
just as people had certain notions about the auspicious character of stars, 
so also they had their notions about the character of days considered apart 
from the naksatras; these lines further show that the naksatras were distingui- 
shed as evil or good from their names, etc. The principle by which the day 
was adjusted to be good or evil is, however, not understood. It seems that the 
naksatras received their names from their luminosity, form, and the malefic 
or benefic. nature attributed to them through fancy or experience. To some 
extent this involves the fallacy or arguing in a circle. But even in the post- 
Vedic works on astrology we find many a rule framed simply in the light of 
the significance of names. Thus, for instance, one may be advised to settle 
a marriage between the bride and bridegroom if they are born, say, under the 
signs Aries and Leo respectively on the assumption that the ram (Aries) 
yields easily to the lion (Leo). 


Let us now consider as to when the year used to begin in Vedic times. - 
Nowhere in Rk Samhita do we find the names of all the seasons mentioned 
together ; only the words Sarad and Hemanta occur in many places in the 
sense of year. As for the other Vedas whenever all the seasons are mentioned, 
the list invariably begins with Spring. In both the branches of Ya- 
jurveda, Spring has been specifically mentioned as the 'mouth of the 
year' (The quotation have already been given before). The months are 
named according to the Madhu-Madhava series, and Madhu and Madh- 
ava are mentioned as the two months of Spring. It is, therefore, proved 

64 History of Indian Astronomy 

beyond doubt that during the Yajurveda Samhita age and during all the 
Vedic times later, the year used to commence from the month ot Maanu 
and with Spring. The people then might have been occasionally commencing 
the year from some other season for civil purposes ; but as a rule the year 
used to commence from Spring. Now the months were lunar and the seasons 
depend upon solar year ; and if a particular solar year began with the begin- 
nine: of a lunar year,there being difference of 1 1 days in the two units of time, 
the beginning of Spring will not invariably coincide with the beginning of the 
lunar year and Spring used to set in invariably in the month of Madhu ; 
there is no doubt that the system of commencing the year with the month ol 
Madhu was in use in the Yajurveda Samhita age and even in later periods. 

Some other astronomical features of the Vedic age will be dealt with in 
the conclusion of Part I. 


It seems that the science of astronomy had assumed a tangible shape in 
the Vedic period. The Vajasaneyi Samhita contains the following lines :— 

(i) "(Go to) an observer of stars for special knowledge'* and 

(ii) "a calculator for Yadasa.." 

The first of these quotations occurs even in Taittiriya Brahmana (3. 4. 1). 
The words ganaka and nak$atra darsa occur here. The Taittiriya Brah- 
mana (3 4. 1)" mentions also the names of certain sages who were proficient 
in these sciences. It is stated at one place that a certain sage named Matsya 
c t some rite performed on an auspicious naksatra and it proved beneficial 
?1 5 2^1 The anuvak which contains the names etc. of the month m a year, 
the days and nights of the month, and muhurtas and pratimuhurtas which 
has already been quoted above has the following lines at the end :— 

f^?n<*n^fo n * « ^^^ ^ **&< » ^Hnxiwwi n tfifa* firrt- 

^K II %o II * % ^T W?*n H ■ Wl ?tofa*W II tWT'ft § sfaw: II StM 

fcf*ta*TT \\ I % \\ 5I*t § m^ffa: 3nf*r** *WWT* II 

"The Vaideha Janaka went with 'days and nights'. They told that he 
who knows them becomes sinless and ascends to heaven. Ahma the son ot 
Asvatfha learnt the science of Savitra, He became a swan and ascended 
heaven. Srautarsa Devabhaga learnt the science of Savitra. The Varsneya 
Sfisa became united with Aditya." 

This appears to be partly related to Vedanta philosophy ; but the context 
shows that it has also some bearing on astronomy. On the whole we are 
led to conclude that astronomy had grown into an independent science in 
the Vedic period. 

In the above discussion all the Vedic quotations have been considered 
together. That does not mean, however, that they were all composed and 

The Vldjc Period 65 

It would not be correct to infer whatever has not been mentioned i« t^ 
Vedas was not at all known to the people of Vedic tirnes T1k Rk S a ^\ t- 
for instance, refers to eclipse but does not mention ail the names of £ ' 
The Taittiriya Sruti, on the other hand, contains references tc IZrZl?™' 
by hundreds, but does not refer to eclipses a all rS ft l« : w fi aak f tras 

ot^ZLTJ h \ gr 7f 6 that the ^ ^ki^^^o^tt- 

Other matters also should receive such judicious consideration. ecll P ses - 


An important sentence may be cited before the close of this chapter. 

-The year is equivalent to a day of the gods." 

uods dwell on the Meru mountain at the North Pole of the Farth nnH ;« 

neAi rait will treat this question at a greater length. 




"Siksa, Kalpa, Vyakarana, Nirukta, Jyotisa and Chandas" are regarded 
as the six parts (Angas) of the Vedas. At present a separate Sutra (Kalpa) 
for each Veda is available and it is recited generally by the Vaidic Brahmins 
belonging to each branch (Sakha) ; as regards other parts, the Vedas cannot 
possibly have separate ones. The remaining five parts, which are at present 
available, ^re recited by Rigvedi Brahmins only and not by those belonging 
to other Vedas. The Vedanga Jyotisa (astronomy) which we hear was recited 
by Vaidic Brahmins, consists of 36 verses ; but there is another work known 
as Vedanga Jyotisa and which is commented upon by Somakara. The com- 
mentary by Somakara gives the remark "Yajurvedahga Jyotisa by Sesa" at 
its end. This portion is not at all different from the one recited by the Rigvedi 
Brahmins. There is also another work known as Atharva Jyotisa, It can- 
not be said for certain that the three Vedas had originally different < 'astro- 
nomical works*' (Vedanga Jyotisa) ; it will, therefore, be convenient to call 
them by different names for a clear understanding of the same. Let us call the 
astronomical work recited by Rigvedi Brahmins as "Rigveda Jyotisa" and 
that which bears the commentary by Somakara as "Yajurveda Jyotisa". The 
Atharva Jyotisa is quite a different one. The first two are similar in many 
respects ; out of 36 verses belonging to Rg- Jyotisa, 30 are found in the Yajur- 
veda Jyotisa also, which has 13 different verses. The total number of verses 
on astronomy and belonging to the two sections together amount to 49. It 
is also interesting to note, that of the 30 common verses, one verse is similar 
in meaning but different in words and metre. 

No information regarding Somakara's date, etc. is available and in no other 
work or commentary is his name found. His commentary is found to be of 
two kinds. One is an extensive commentary in which Somakara mentions his 
name in the beginning and adds at the end the remark 'The Vedanga Jyotisa 
by Sesa ends." The second kind is an abbreviation of the first one. It does 
not mention either Somakara's name or the word "compiled by Sesa", etc. 
Those verses which are very easy to understand or those which deal with 
mathematics, are left aside ; there is no harm if one thinks that Somakara did 
not understand the work at all. Even none of other astronomers appears to 
have attempted to explain the mathematical side of the Vedanga Jyotisa ; 
and because it has very little in common with other astronomical works, we 
seldom find its references in them, and those very few references will be dealt 
with in subsequent pages. This work is a very ancient one and as such 
occupies an important place in the history of astronomy. It should, therefore, 
be fully considered. 

In 1879 A.D. Prof. Thibbaut published a small booklet on the transla- 
tion of Yajurveda Jyotisa, which shows that he could succeed in explaining 
6 verses more than what Somakara could do. In 1881 A.D. the author 
attempted to translate as many verses of Yajurveda Jyotisa as he could under- 
stand. Late Krishna Shastri Godbole had attempted to explain the work but 


Vedanga Period 67 

he could not explain more number of verses than what Prof. Thibbaut could. 
In 1885 late Janardan Balaji Modak, B. A. published a Marathi translation 
of Rg-Jyotisa and Yajur-Jyotisa, from which it can be said that he could 
explain 2 or 3 verses more. He explained only 28 verses out of 49 The 
author is at present in a position to explain 36 verses out of 49. 

At present only the Rg-Jyotisa i$ recited by Brahmins. It is not known if 
Brahmins m any part of India now recite the Yajurveda Jyotisa or ever used 
to do so m the past. There is an interesting thing about the text of Rg-Jyotisa 
which is widely in recitation among the Vaidic Brahmins. It is worth noting 
that a number of yerses contains words giving erroneous meaning. The words 

IndiaTntMsVo^ ** 1S interesting t0 see that these are recited throughout 

It is no wonder that people regard the text with the same veneration as 
the Vedas, and hence a suggestion to the reciter to replace the incorrect form 
by a correct one would become unacceptable. It is obvious that the astro- 
nomical work would not have been erroneous originally ; and hence the 
research as to when and how these errors have crept in, would be found 
very important in the study of the history of the Vedas and Vedangas It 
seems that the original Vedanga Jyotisa must have disappeared some time in 

Infrnvf,^^ UtQr .™ som r e P andit > not understanding the text, must have 
introduced he recitation of the text from an illegible or incorrectly written 
edition available to him. This is not the condition of other works connect- 
ftZ ! th y. ed,c lltera ture and hence the above can become a subject of research 
find W a t? r ? nS ° f S A n u knt literature - The author has written later on his 
r» n » £■- \° m £ -° f i he - VerS6S - ° f the six Veda ngas, Panini wrote Vyaka- 

iTJf T^ ; P , lfig T ala - 1S the author of Chandasastra (metre), and so were 

k wr?ttn°- T gV6da Jy0 i i? ^ In the second verse of this astronomical work 
is written I am giving the knowledge of time as described by Lagadha." 

If pVn,-nTw hat hke the recitation of two verses (devoted to the salutation 
fLifZ'Lu con ™encing the recital of Astadhydyi. It is just possible 

Jeca^ ft t W3S n0t the aUth ,° r ° f the whole work I *>me one might have 
recast it later on in accordance with Lagadha's suggestions, "srm*" 

LTt^hfHL t ^^ F ; Ur ? P ?^w a ^' I ; agad, o r *'Lagadh\ This confusion 
seems to be due to the fact that the letter ^ cannot be properly expressed in 

*T a ,Kt C t ar a °4 e T' and A is ° n account of this that Prof - Weber has expressed 
5th cent™ 2 n 8 ^^ I* ^ PerS ° n aS Laat ' he mUSt haVe Hved in the 
beyond doubt* ^ t6XtS menti ° n the nam ^ as ' La S adha ' 

1hp v* hat f ol]ows, the translation of more important verses common to both 
bee* iltf n g L Y °a;u & ♦" ?- Ven firSt ' In the ^ginning, the Rg-Jyotisa has 
tS?JT Ep ♦? e teXt lS Wntten exactIv in the form in which it is actually 

recited it the same verse happens to belong to the Yajurveda, but with a 

££?«« Y % S u° n glVe . ty Somakara and giving a better sense, it is also given 
™ f~ a I 6 ar x e fo . Wowed b y those verses from the Yajurveda which are 
not tound in Rg- Jyotisa. Then useful suggestio ns and criticism arc given 

iatio^T^y^^^ edthc i ryabh £! f} ' a - He has in its introduction given some quo- 
lommentTJL 8 \ m} co ™ ment * r y "Bhatnprakasika" in the Malayalam character. The 

wSrby^adlcl^. PiaCe ' qU ° ted tW ° VCrSeS fr ° m Ved5 ^ a J y°^ as "tenl 

h*-,„A n t i l jJ! lc - w ?j te ? the name as "Lagad". The mistake might have been committed 
S e r E f «* similarity of D& DH in the Malayalam character. It is worth sST the 
Prahmins of th.s province while reciting the Rg-Jyotisa pronounce the name as «ulad" 
2 DGO'59 


History of Indian Astronomy 

with the verses themselves wherever it was possible to do so. Attempt has 
been made to retain the originality of the text in the form in which it is recited 
by Vaidic Brahmins. 

For the sake of convenient comparison and contrast, the verse numbers 
belonging to one of the Vedahgas are given in the first column and the corres- 
ponding verses belonging to the second Vedahga are given in the next column, 
lhe nrst two columns are the analysis of verses belonging to Rigveda Jyotisa 
and the fast 3 columns are that of verses belonging to Yajurveda Jyotisa. 


°f Rg- Jyotisa 

Analysis of Yajur Jyoti 








Y R 








19 11 












■ 21 




21 21 









22 20 








23 31 









24 17 




















27 12 



























31 C 






32 25 






33 26 





34 27 







35 28 










q**w*njro qtrrara sr*mfcr n fa*R?fa*?nsi»i *«t«t few srf%: iitii 

"After saluting Prajapati who is the lord of the five-year Yuga (which 
ensists of the day, the season, the ayana and the month as its parts) I become 

Vedanga Period 69 

purified and then after saluting the god of time and also the goddess of learn- 
ing (Sarasvati) I describe the knowledge of time as propounded by the great 
sage Lagadha". 

It is a bit surprising to note that the names of the 5 years comprising the 
Pancu-Samvatsara-Yuga (five-year-period) are not found in the Vedanga 
Jyotisa. But Sornakara has quoted some verses belonging to Garga to which 
the author has referred in his note on the 8th verse. Those verses give a 
description of Panca-Samvatsara-Yuga similar to that given by the Vedanga 
Jyotisa and they mention names for the five years. The Brhat Samhita by 
Varahamihira gives the names of years and their Lords. (See Brhat Samhita 
8-10) ; some of these Lords are different from those mentioned by Garga. 
A line from Taittirlya Brahmana has already been quoted on page 15 which 
gives the names of Lords of years ; but they are only four and different in 
certain respects. These are given below : — 

Name of the 



Tai. Br ohm 



I, Samvatsara 

. Agni 



2. Pari vat sara 


. Aditya 



3, Idavatsara 


. Candrama 



4. Anuvatsara 


. Vayu 



5, Idvatsara 


♦ . » * 



ff^v ffW5n*faf far *<»f Tcwfiw it **r*rr TOtrr'qa ffwrt <r^if T<awret h * it 

If the words "Dvadasabhyastam" and "Samyutam" from Yajur- Jyotisa 
be substituted for "Dvadasardhabdam" and "Samjnikam" from Rg-Jyotisa; 
the above verse can be translated sensibly as follows :— 

"Reduce the current year number (out of the 5 year cycle) by one. Multi- 
ply the result by 12. Add number of months elapsed. Double the sum.* Add 
2 for every sixty. The resulting sum is called Parva Rasi". 

Example.— Find the Parva-number (i) in the beginning of the second year 
of the cycle and (ii) at the end of the 7th month of the 3rd year. 

Solution.— (i) Current year number minus one=2- 1 = 1. . 1 x 12x2 gives 
24. (ii) Current year number— 1=3— 1=2. (2 x 12+7) x 2+2=64. 

This is just like calculating the number of days elapsed from the epoch. 
This shows that one intercalary month is reckoned after 60 Parvas /. e., after 
every 30 lunar months. Some verses from Rigveda-version suggest this ; but 
verse number 37 from Yajur Jyotisa definitely mentions the rule. 

"When the sun and the moon while moving in the sky, come to Vasava 
(Dhanistha, ,8-Delphini) star together, then the Yuga, the Magha (month), 
the Tapas (s-ason), the light half of the month, and the winter solstice, all 
commence together." • 

70 History of Indian Astronomy 

"CaSmm^ YaJUr " VerSi ° n "Candramasau" is correct and not the version 

hS*?^**^^*? ^™**^^ - N ° rth in the be S^ning of Dhanist- 
nas and towards South m the middle of Aslesa. The sun always does this 
respectively in the months of Magha and Sravana." * 

c^!tt^th^ ^A aV ^u aS Wef ? ?° S J sible in Ma 2 ha and Sravana can be 
calculated , this point has been explained at length in the end. 

■rftfTOtSTC*: WT-^T?T nmtll II ?f<S<fcft f**M* liffjrtfife * II \» II 

™ Jl? Urin / ^ sun ; s northward journey the day increases by one Prastha- 
measure of water and the night becomes short. During the- southward journey 

S SStoSS;.^ 61 ^ ThC inCfeaSe ( ° f time) durin S an avana is equal To 

tinn A v~ eMe if ° ne P ? aSt !? a is e£ l uivalent to 4/61 nadika. In this connec- 
tion, verse no 17 may also be seen. At the end of this topic, it is fully dis- 
cussed as to where an increase of six muhurtas is possible. 

f$<v* wtrt *ip9*raf sratesr ii vg# *?ht «yfr$inv «g*Tqtft n « n 

**:<TT5— 3Wf ^T^ srT|T*rcro spffcsr II 

(The Yajur-version should be accepted for rational meaning). 

rJZ!t Q - A y a ^ s , c °mmence twice on the Pratipada, Saptami, Trayodasi 
Caturthi and Dasami. They are respectively the commencing tithis of both 
the ayanas which can occur even in dark half of a month." 

The 1st, 7th and 13th of the 'light half and the 4th and 10th of the dark 
half are these very 5 tithis occurring again, form the 10 beginning tithis of 
10 ayanas^occurriiig in the 5 years; and because the ayanas take place in 
ff^Tu^ 6 tithis alternately belong to the two ayanas and hence 
to the months of Magha and Sravana. • 

That the above verse is to be rendered in this very particular way is suoDort 
J otisa qUOtationS of Garga S iven with ref erence to this portion of Vedftfiga 

t . In ^jlj™! the T rd ! <fi . rst > ^venth, etc' are used in neuter gender, while 
the word tithi is used in feminine or sometimes in masculine and not in neuter 
gender ; this no doubt creates a difficulty. The author has, therefore, taken 
them to be adjectives qualifying the word May' (Dinam). They are to be 
regarded as tithis and not civil days of a civil month, since no such specific 
mention is made, nor does it agree with the Vedanga Jyotisa system. 

^* CO 

"Vasu, Tyasta, Bhava, Aja, Mitra, Sarpa, the two Asvinas, Jala. Dhata anH 

Brahma are the Lords of the nak§atras (viz. Dhanistha, Citra, Ardr5 Purvf 

Bhadrapada. Anuradha, Asresa, Asvayuja, Purvasadha, Uttara PhaW 

ffJj^ % J^^to*y^W;on* ^tu (season) is equivaSTo 

Yedanga Period 


The first ay ana in the 5th year commences on Uttara Phaleuni and it* 
Lord according to Vedahga Jyotisa, is Aryama and hence the word DhatS 
will have to be translated as Aryama (this is a difficulty). The naksatra* 
alluded to m the verse are lunar mansions. iKsairas 

The meaning of the above two verses will be clear from the 'Garea-auota- 
tions' given by Somakara in the following verses. ' 8 4 

3m^T«J?T^ *RTT: TOT*fST Tr^TH II <T?^ mfaflft m^ *fa*rw*& || \ || 

^T§ <T?^>s*^ fai^f*) ** || awmt^: ^rfWtf *lfq ^?r: II ^ || 

ww mm sp wren** vtaum* n mtfs v*ft *faf f*mt*f sr fcrcn^ 11 * it 

awW^ft gftm** farn* 11 ftttawnHra: a brm tfW* 11 m 
*■* wr «pff mn« ftvnrc n *Mf feronfm; <nfc7nfefe.11 * 11 
triTfRV %*af?r sperw sntf rerit 11 vwbN gff m*rf orffifitapi 11 * • u 
wt q?fof ?f snjT^rawwT mv 11 H^«it irercgf «rar *k&i$ faimsV * ? 11 
^ ** »wwn«iWTt «*q 11 stf wicferip* trnffrftfanrc u n 11 
**r *i»rt 55*^ «i^ vitetoi n ^T^^^n^*^ 11 ^ h 

ware : * futa vtft ^far: ii ipfci^ ffeFfhn* 1' «wf sr cram; ii % % n 

in tK of a^ab?eXSt°?I "* ** tW ° ^ (8 Md 9) ^^ 







Commencement of 
Winter Solstice 


Sun's Moon's 

Naksatra Naksatra 

Magha S 1 Dhanistfia Dhanisjha 

" S 13 „ Ardra 

>> K 10 „ Anuradha 

" S 7 „ AsvinI 

K 4 M u. PhalgunI 

Commencement of , 
Summer Solstice 


Sun's Moon's 

Naksatra Naksatra 

Sravaiia S7 Half of 


m K 4 « " P. Bhadrapada 
>> SI „ Asresa 

S 13 „ P. Asa<Jha 

»» K 10 „ Rohini 

72 History of Indian Astronomy- 

^i^^^iT«ivij5wt?ENnnff: it ^mwffta w ^gifcsTyyffi fmi tt ** tt 

This verse should be read as 

which is the Yajurveda version and a correct one. In this verse 27 naksa- 
tras have been indicated by symbolic letters as follows :— , 

1. Jau— Asyayujau for Asvini 15. Dha for Anuradha 

2; Dra for Ardra 16. Nah for Sravanah 

3. Gah— Bhagah for P. PhalgunI 17. Re for Revati 

4. Khe for Visakhe 18. Mr for Mrga&rsa 

5. Sve— Visve (Deva) for U. Asadha 19. Gha for Magha 

6. Hih— Ahirbudhnya for U. Bhadrapada 20. Sva for Svati 

7. Ro for Rohini 21. Pah-Apah for P. Asadha 

8. Sa for Asresa 22. Ajah -Aja Eka Pad for P. 

9. Cit for Citra Bhadrapada 
10. Mu for Mflla 23. Kr for Krttika 
ll.SakforSatabhisak 24. Syah for Pusyah 

12. ^yah for Bharanyah 25. Ha for Hasta 

13. Su for Punarvasu 26. Jye for Jyestha 

, 14. Ma— Aryama for U. PhalgunI 27. Stha for Sravistha 

The list contains the naksatras beginning with Asvini and then every 6th 
naksatra from it. The symbols are either the beginning letters or the ending 
letters of naksatra names or those of controlling deities. 

The theory underlying this is as follows :— It appears from the above* 
verse and from the 25 verses of Yajur Jyotisa that 1 yuga contains 124 
parvas and hence one naksatra division is supposed to be divided into 124 
parts. One yuga contains 1860 tithis and the Sun revolves through the naksa- 
tras 5 times during a mahayuga (see Yajur Jyo. verses 28 and 31). Hence the 
Sun moves through 6X f^ 2 * i.e. 9 parts during one tithi. The following 
table gives the part (or degree) of a particular naksatra which the Sun occupies 
at the end of each Parva. From this it can be seen that the Sun will be found 
on the part number which is the ordinal number of naksatra in the list. For 
example : Asvini is the first and Ardra is the second naksatra; whenever the 
sun would come to Asvini (i.e. at the end of 5th, 30th, 55th, 79th and 104th 
parva) the sun would be found to occupy the first part or a multiple of 27 
plus one part and when it would come to Ardra it would occupy the second 
part or multiple of 27 plus 2 parts and so on. In the last column of the 
table is noted the balance which remains after dividing the number of parts 
or a naksatra by 27. Each naksatra occupies that place in the list which is 
indicated by that number. The scheme or the system cited above can not be 
rightly understood, as the meanings of all the verses are not clear. It is just 
possible that originally there might have been verses explaining the system, 
but those verses are now lost for us. 

*A naksatra is supposed to consist of 610 Kalas (minutes), as given in verses 18 and 
2 1 of ^k- version. This number refers to the Moon's motion. 

Yedanga Period ,j 

The Sun's position at the end of each Parva in the 5 years of a Yuga. 







Current Naksat 
Part Name 


(27 parts) 












P. Bhadrapada 


Phalguna . 




U. Bhadrapada 


Phalguna . 







• . • 5 

















Vaisakha . 































. . 13 









P. Phalguni . 






U. Phalguni . 











l 63 


9 ^ 











Visakha . , 















■ 22 



Miila . • 






U. Asadha . , 






















Phalgur.a . 




P. Bhadrapada 

































History of Indian Astronomy 




Current, Nak ? atra 

• Remainder 
Name (27 parts) 






U. Bhadrapads 

i . 6 




Revati . 





Asvayuj . 





Bharani . 

. . 12 










Rohini . 




















Asresa . 





Magha . 





P. Phalguni 





U. Phalguni . 

. 14 









Citra. . 










Visakha . 















P. Asadha 





U. Asadha 






Sravana . 





. 27 

51 . 








.P. Bhadrapada 





U. Bhadrapada 





Revati . 





Asvayuj . 





Bharapi . 


Vedanga Period 










urrent N a 

k s a t r a 

(27 parts) 


[DAVATSARA— contd. 





Rohinl . 












Ardra . 

• " 2 







Adhika Sravana , 






Adhika Sravajia . 




ASresa . 






Magha . . 






P. Phalguni 

3 . 





U. Phalguni 




17 " 














Visakha . 


Kjjjtika , - . 





. . 15 

Kartika * , 




Jyestha . 

. . 26 











P. Asadha 

. . 21 





U. Asadha 

• 5 





Sravana . 



* . 












Phalg^na . 




P. Bhadrapada 


Phalguna . 




U. Bhadrapadj 

i .6. 








. 80 




12 .. 

Vaisakha . 




Kfttika . 


Vaisakha . 




Rohinl • 


Jyestha - 










Ardra . 









History of Indian Astronomy 














. * 




















Curfent Naksi 
Part Name 

t r a 

(27 parts) 










Asrcsa .. 










P. Phalguni . 



. 16 


U. Phalguni . 
























53 - 











P. Asadha 





U. Asadha 






Sravana . 












• 3 


U. Bhadrapada 

t 6 




Revati . 





Asvayuj . 





Bharani . 






. . 23 




Rohipl . 
















. 13 














P. Phalguni 





U. Phalguni 


VJeiSANftsx Period 







urrent N a k g 

at r a 

(27 parts) 


As^ i 'a . . 


















Svati . 











. 119 














. ' 121 










P._ Asadha 



Adhika Magha .'. 

." 123 



U. Asadha 



Adhika Magha . 







%ren sst afaw II «fJTCRT'*Rr..i... II 

"lO^kalas make one 'nadika', two nadikas are equal to one 'muhurta* 
and 30 muhurtas or 603 kalas make one day ". 

The verse does not mention any relation between "Adhaka" and "Dro^a"; 
Similarly the 24th verse of Yajur-Jyotisa, which gives different wording, does 
not give any relation. Varahamihira, in the Varsanadhyaya, says 

So $o ^. 

C » a 

It seems, while writing out this chapter, he must have had before his mind 
this very verse from Vedanga Jyotisa. But although he has made use of the 
term 'drona* in the next verse, he does not mention any relation between 
*adhaka' and 'drona'. It may be, he did not find any suitable place wherein 
to mention this relation, because the four 'quarters' of the verse were already 
composed. Also, the commentator Bhatotpala says, "because 50 palas are 
said to make one adhaka, and four adhakas make one drona". These parts 
of a verse so much agree with the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 17th verse of Vedanga 
Jyotisa, that Bhatotpala appears to have taken the quotation, without doubt, 
from Vedanga Jyotisa. Bhaskaracarya and the others have also mentioned 
'drona* as equivalent to 4 'adhakas' and the real verse of Vedanga Jyoti§a ought 
to run as follows and it will then remain in agreement with the context : — 

"One muhtirta=two nadikas ; 50 palas = l adhaka; 4 adhakas =1 drona 
— this being larger than one na<Jika by 3 kudavas". 

78 History of Indian Astronomy 

Here we have to take for granted the words "Than one nadika". This 
word occurs in the first quarter and we can take it without much difficulty. 
The sense which we thus get tallies with the clear meaning of the verse given by 
the Yajur- Jyotisa, which runs thus: 

qsnfa «fawwrt ^mfa crtssp sfoma: sc*N w 

"The vessel known as 'adhaka' holds 50 palas of water. Measure one drona 
of water with it. Throw away from it water equal to 3 kudavas in volume. 
Then the time needed for the remaining water (to trickle away) is known as 
one nadika". 

The measure of the unit Kutapa (Kudava) which occurs in the 
verse needs understanding. Similarly another unit 'Prastha' denoting some 
measure of time has occurred before in verse No. 7. Vedanga Jyotisa does 
not give any relation between Prastha and Nadika. Let us try to understand 
it. Bhaskaracarya says, 

src*5*g«rt*T f^rc^w sr^tfCTTm: wwm afire: iuh 

Meaning : — 4 kudavas=l prastha 

4 prasthas=l adhaka 

4 adhakas=l drona 
and according to Vedanga Jyotisa, 50 palas make one adhaka. Hence, the 
following units can be interrelated as 

1 drona^200 palas=64 kudavas. 1 prastha=12i palas. 

1 adhaka=50 palas. ... 1 kudava= 3| palas. 

Also according to Vedanga Jyotisa, 1 nadika=l drona minus 3 kudavas. 
Hence, 1 nadika=61 kudavas=(200— 3x3£) palas=190f palas and 1 prastha 

= \2h palas, 

" 12 1 4 

therefore, 1 prastha= ^^ = ^ nadikas. 

It has been said in the 7th verse above that the day-light increases by 1 
prastha per day, and it has been now proved that 1 prastha=4/61 nadikas, 
and this agrees with the theory underlying the method of calculating 'measure 
of day' (Dinamana) described in 22nd verse. This shows that we have correct- 
ly established the relation between prastha, nadika and other units. It has 
been proved that 'nadika' stands for that measure of time during which 190f 
palas volume of water would trickle away ; but no rule is given as to how to 
regulate the size of the hole to ensure the correctness of time for a definite 
volume of water to flow out. Tt appears that it was considered unnecessary 
to dilate upon this as the ghatika vessel had come into common use since a long 
time. According to Amarkosa, Lilavati and other works, one pala=4 karsa 
=4 tolas of water ; or 190f palas x4=762-| tolas ; which amounts to a volume 
greater than 9 seers of water. The ghatika-vessels which are found in use at 
present can hold 1$ seers of water at the most. The bigger the vessel in size 
the greater is the accuracy of time and hence big vessles are always desirable. 

Vedanga Period 79 

The unit of time known as 'pala' appears to have been derived from the 
time which 1 pala (spoon) full of water takes to trickle out. The pala, there- 
fore, is a unit of volume and of time also. In astronomy the word 'pamyapala* 
is found in use to indicate a 'pala-unit' (see Siddhanta Siromani). According 
to Vedanga Jyotisa, a ghatika was not considered to be equivalent to 60 palas 
but equal to 190f panlyapalas. This measure is inconvenient for calcula- 
tions. However, the work does mention "a day=--60 nadikas" and it appears 
that the identity (1 nadika=60 palas) might have come into use ; and just as 
in Vedanga Jyotisa, the measure of one nadika h<s been described as the 
time for 190£ palas of water to trickle out, so the future generations may 
begin to define a nadika as the time for 60 palas of water to pass out. It 
does not matter as to the number of palas which a nadika would consist of ; 
since, one nadika has always to remain equivalent to l/60th part of a day, 
it is constant in value. The relation "1 nadika= 60 palas" can be maintained 
if the size of aperture in the vessel of capacity 60 palas be so adjusted that the 
water in it would pass out in exactly 1 nadika time. Even at present,^ people 
do not care to know as to how much v/ater their "ghatika patra" (nadika vessel) 
should hold. They take care to see that the bore is sufficiently small so that 
the water oozes out exactly in 1 ghatika time. The measure of a nadika as 
adopted in Vedanga Jyotisa period no doubt appears very inconvenient, will be shown later on that it is really a convenient one. 

There will be very little change if the word 'Syona' in the first quarter of 
the Rk- verse be replaced by 'Syena'. 

"The moon remains in a naksatra for a period of 1 civil day +7 (kalas). 
The Sun remains there for 131 days. 5 letters are equal to 1 kastha". 

A solar year consists of 366 and one Yuga contains (366x5)=-- 1830 civil 
days (see Yajurveda-verse No. 28);andthe moon moves through the naksatras 
67 times during one Yuga (see Yajurveda-verse No. 31). The moon, there- 
fore, moves through 67x27 naksatras in one yuga. One day consists of 
503 kalas. Hence, one yuga contains 1830x603 kalas. The moon, there- 
fore, requires ^^xVt =610 Kala-time (=1= 1 day 3 kalas) to pass through 
one naksatra. The sun takes 366 days to move through 2? naksatras ; 
hence, it requires W 6 ^ 13 ! davs to P ass through a naksatra. 

(First half is unintelligible. Translation of second half's— "Multiply the 
solar month by six, the result will be lunar seasons". 

Sun's complete revolution through stars is known as a year and 6 seasons- 
occur in this period, so the six lunar seasons will occur in moon's one revolu- 
tion through the Zodiac. But the moon's one revolution is equal to one solar 
month. Hence number of solar months multiplied by six will give the period 
for the moon's seasons. This is an approximate result. According to Vedanga 
Jyotisa the moon makes 67 revolutions in 60 solar months, and therefore, one 
solar month gives rise to r '!£ 6 ~-6 T £ lunar seasons. 

80 History of Indian Astronomy 

"To obtain 'Adana Kala' (/.<?. Bhogya or elapsable number of kalas)at the 
end of the day falling on a parva, add seven times tithi to the Adana Kalas 
(elapsable kalas) of the naksatra(=^Bha) on the parva-day in question". 

One civil day contains 603 kalas and a naksatra is equivalent to 610 kalas. 
Hence, the moon after passing through 6C3 kalas in one civil day, still leaves 
7 kalas more to be passed over next day ; it thus leaves 14 kalas more after 2 
days and so on. The above rule is based on this theory. The tithi here 
stands for a "civil day". 

?£w tram fj^if 5nre?r sgrisrcf *infferwsnn«f 11 ^ it 

(The work 'Tadevasasfya' in both these versions must be replaced by 
'Tadekasastya' to give a sensible meaning). 

"Find the number of days elapsed after Uttaraytna or member of days 
yet to go for the Daksmayana ; multiply the number ty 2 and divide the pro- 
duct by 61 . Add 12 to the quotient getting the measure of a day in "muhurtEs". 

One can understand the theory underlying the above method from the 
* fact that one year consists of 366 days, one ayana conUms 183 and the total 
increase during this period is 6 muhurtas. Therefore daily increase over 12 
muhurtas would be T f^ or / T muhurtas or 7 * T nadikas. 

Example.— Find the "length of the day" on the day just after Uttarayana 
commences. The increase =, i*« muhurtas. Therefore the 'dinamana" or 
length of the day will be 12- 6 V muhurtas or 24 g 4 T nadikas. 

In verse 7 it has been already stated that the day increases by a prastha, 
and it was proved in 17th verse that a prastha was equal to / T nadikas. The 
relation of 61 kudavas equal to one nadika is a convenient adoption to avoid 
lengthy multiplications and divisions. 

as* fowmtf h*t q^fnT <mfor i wgjm 3 afs^ra **in* s^rann* 11 ^ 11 
^wtis— u^fewmiTf . . . . i ?c§. . . #wnr. . . 11 

(Yadardham, has been taken as the correct word). 

"Ritu-sesa (balance of a Ritu) is obtained bv the sum of balances in all 
parvas ; at the end of each parva a balance of a half-tithi remains". 

The time between two parvas is equal to a "half-lunar month". A Yuga 
contains 1830 civil days, 120 half-solar months and 124 parvas ; hence a half- 
lunar month=Y¥* =14 T Vir civil days and a half-solar months y,&>=15i= 
15fVV civil days. The balance per parva is, therefore, 1 5^l — 1 4 X V* = t^V civil 
day s=^ half-tithi. The seasons depend upon solar months ; "hence* this 
is the balance in half-lunar month. This is termed "Adhimasa 6esa" in 
books on astronomy. The balance in 30 lunar months comes to be f l -' x 60= 
29 T Vir civil months which is equal to one lunar month. Hence, one month is 
reckoned as intercalary after every 30 lunar months. The theory about the 
intercalary month and the meaning of the above verse will thus be clear. 

3*f«T: SRTqf?T: S>T> ^W?T^<tf?T: II 

Vedanga Period 


These verses give the names of controlling deities of 27 naksatras. The 
names of naksatras are not given, but the order definitely begins from Krttikas. 
The commencing part of 27th verse reads "Visnur-Varuno-Vasavo". From 
this, deities of Sravistha and Satabhisak become respectively Varuna and Vasu; 
but the Taittiriya Sruti and all astronomical works give names in reverse order. 
The Yajurveda-versicn of this part is "Visnur-Vasavc-Varuno" ; this must te 
the correct reading and should be accepted. 

The naksatras and their deities are as follows : — 

Serial number 

Commencing from 

Sravi stria. Kj-ttika 




















P. Phalguni 

U. Phalguni 



Visakha . 


Jyestha . 


P. Asadha 

U. Asadha 

Sravana . 

Sravistha . 


Deity s 








. Bhaga 
. Aryama 
, Savita 
. Tvasta 
. Vayu 
, Indragnl 
. Mitra 
. Indra 
. Nirrti 

- APab 

. Visyedeva 

. Visnu 

. Vasu 

. V^uiia 

? 2 History of Indian Astronomy 

Serial number • 

Commencing from 
Srvistha Krttika Name Deity 

3 23 P. Bhadrapada ...... Ajaekap a d a 

4 24 U. Bhadrapada . . . . . . Ahirbudhnya 

5 25 Revati . Pq? - 

6 26 Asvayuj ....... Asvinau 

7 27 BharanI . . . . ... Yama 

"These are the deities of naksatras. The holy preceptors (Sastrajnas) ordain 
that the sacrificer should adopt a name based on the naksatra (at birth)." 

(Note.— Other astronomical works give a method by which persons are 
given names according to the naksatra-quarter at birth, and the same is still 
in vogue). 

fiww xvm arwf *<!#* J*™* ii nwiwr ?nf?r T^ffa ?r^e# m fa faffcj h 3 ? h 

"C To nnd the tithis and parvas elapsed when a certain equinox 

(after the 1st one) would fall.] Subtract 1 from the number of equinoxes under 
question. Multiply the remainder by 2 and by 1. Multiply each product 
by 6. The first product gives the number of parvas elapsed and the second 
product tithis" 

Example. — To find when the 10th equinox would fall. 
Method . — 

10— 1=-9 9x2x6=108 parvas 
9x1x6=54 tithis 
108 parvas+54 tithis=lll parvas+9 tithis. 
Adding to this, period 
elapsed for 1st equinox 
from the beginning of Yuga, i.e., 6 parvas +3 tithis 

=117 parvas+12 tithis 
The 10th equinox would, therefore, fall after 117 parvas and 12 tithis 
would pass, i.e. at the end of Kartika Krsna Dvadasi (12th tithi of dark 
half of Kartika) in the 5th year of the Yuga. 

The Yajurveda- version for this formula runs thus : 

This verse can directly and easily be rendered as follows :— *« Subtract 1 
from the equinox-number and multiply the difference by 2. Multiply the 
result by 6 giving 'paksas'. The half of this paksa-number would be the 
tithi at the equinox time." 

Vedakga Period 83 

th. R v PlaCiD T S ^ e wor !' Pr avrtta' from Rk-version by the word 'Prapanna' 
the^Yajur-Jyotisa reading would be translated thus:— **P<"ma 

"The knowledge of time' concerning the 5 year-cycle (vuua) which com. 

STO^s^ of Magha and ends with " he ss^riswe: 

« T . ***» « li- 

on tw ? qU T*l° - C vh 0n the 3rd > 9th > I5th ' 6th and 12th tithis (and again 
on these very tithis in the same order)". v s 

Thifl ha f bee ? shown before > that the equinox day was known in Vedic times 
The first equinox occurred 3 solar months after the winter solstice andThe 
second pne^e solar months after the first. According to Vedanga Jvotisa threl 
torn Zt^^Z^Z *° 93 ^ and beca " se th e Yufa c y omSen^ 
S hrii Tf v } -ti Ma ft a> th ? fil ? equinox must fal1 on ^e 3rd tithi of 
and 6 ^L °^ Vaisal ^ ha - . After six sol ar months, that is after 6 lunar months 
formula A1tL n ? qUm ° X must . occur - Hen <*, we get the 9th tithi in the 
Eon.* equinoxes occurring in a Yuga are given together in a table 

as above term " rrayoda ^ is not clear ' otherwise, the verse must be translated 

The verse is understandable if the 9th letter "thah" is omitted. 

(afZrVhaU^iu he moon come nearer t0 one anoth er on the 14th tithi 
joi aarx nalt). The moon is so positioned that when it rises, the day dawns 

twfT / 8 Wlt 5 tb : e §un on the 1st tithi of light half of Magha in the day 

S ^ « a + 1S ° Wlt ? ^ Sravi?tM asterism " S ™ lai is its P° sitl on (at the end 
of the first parva) before the commencement of rainy season." 

^Jtf^^^es when the day has begun, that is, just after sunrise. This is 

KSn 6 t,^ 111 ° f ^ half of Ma S ha < on the junction of New Moon 
rf«v Th C- T he r Sun and t he m oon always conjunct on each New Moon 
#2« ™ • Je i ? f mentioning only two New-moon days is that it is only on 
^i^!l 10MC 5 ,nilg i Y !i« athatthe Udagayana or Daksinayana commence 
fShi^iTT day u' V* first one bein S the Uttarayana on the commencing 
n;w?n 5 M a ag • m the oegmning of the first year and the second one being the 
ualcsinayana in the beginning of Sravana in the third year. 

<^?i at% Km * qrt^^Tf^HT: 11 \% 11 

from^heformCTRt CO,mmenCeS ^^ ^^ alternate day and alt emate month 

Two solar months make a season; and the dates of commencement of these 
seasons during five years are given in a table later on. It will be seen that the 
term Ekantarenhi* (i.e. alternatively) applies to tithis. 

"Multiply the number of parvas elapsed by 11 ; add to this the product of 
number of tithis by 9. Divide the sum by 124, and add the parva-number 
to tne quotient, which gives the solar naksatra (on the desired tithi)". 

84 History of Indian Astronomy 

i24^SS e v^ 8a A°2SS 124 ParVaS> £° Wold yu « a hasbeea used to mean 
other veJ s «S^ uJ m ^ ll su PP osed ^ be divided into 124 parts. Some 

dirkg onftkhi. ° ne Same VieW ' The sun crosses such 9 P^ 8 

/» theZnntTnf T M- fi u d '** A 01 "', mkmra at the end <>f Full-moon 
in the month of Magna m the 1st year of the cycle. Solution:- 

(Tithis) i.e. 15x9=135. 134=1+324 Here the quotient is 1 and the parva 
Satra Cd " ™°' ^ SUn ha& therefore crossed n P arts of the 2nd 
(ii) To find the solar naksatra at the end of 3rd parva. Because three parvas 
have elapsed, 3x11-124+3=3^.. This shows that the sun has crossed 
33 parts of the fourth naksatra. 

ftmttf m^ *fe** to *a#tf , wtht wm **?: stfawm *f tiwt 

A yii^^tiSIS. 2 SeaS ° nS ' 2 ayanaS (and) 12 S ° la ' r monti i; a year - 

6* «"'l5«S m £? sava) ris . es Aye times the number of days in a year of the yuga 
O.e. 1830). The moonnses (Rsi) are 62 less." *y*s* 

number^fVfvIL^ ^ time between two executive sunrises. Hence the 
number of civil days m a year is equal to number of sunrises during the Deriod 

r o n^^^ b S nb< 5 ° f A Vi !i day .l (366 > iS the number oSis^.Ttt 
™,m iT u been , a fae ^ bodv like other st ars, the number of sunrises 
JjS^^ff 1 to tbo *? of the stars; but because it moves tough 
star wYth £ -1fh3 Ce to . Wards , East evei y da V' j t ^ses a little later than the 
pleteTevoS rt^ifS^ ^ **? pr . evi ? US day ' Thus > * makes a com. 
Sf^s^of^r^fe*^ StarS ; ai l d lt is ' therefore > ob vious that the number 

t^fm^hJZ* 7 ' 1 ^^^™^ 00 *'™ ™ vear ' and h ence 
the a a t^c ^ h ° Se ° f the SU1 J in one Yu « a - The mo °n evolves through 
tneastensms 67 times m one yuga (Reverse 31, below)- hence the number 

oLTuTa nSe ^ ^ $T th ° Se °I t tars b * 67 a * d les * tL sunrises bTS S 

have oridn^v ^ qU / rter 5 f the verse is ille * ible - lt a PPears, they must 

SSSir riSfi? y «2? taJ Sf d W ° rd - meaning sometb ing like 'the number of 
steiiar-nses is greater than sunrises by five'. 

o^&KiXSSt Jh*to^ m times and lunar parvas 124 - 

loo2nl^ I ?i." Pauwa ? 1 " in the ori 8 inal verse does n °t appear to fit in- but 
revolts 67 tiSJTSf 1 * 1 Seme ' any .° ther word is not P°^ ble - -$**** 
'l^tmS^ii mmg fy u -S k \ bence > 67x2 = 134 must be the number of 
&*^^^ ™*« 31 according to verse 

One civTltw 8 ° T - 6 } ^i^^ths, 62 lunar months and 67 sidereal months. 
sS^lmSS.* £ m i? tS of 30 days ' and the «>lar month of 30£ days. The 

Sl^ Wjffi?" 8 taken by the moon t0 make a <« e ^wS 

Vedanga Period 85 

One year consists of 12 solar months (See Yajur-version 28) hence, one 
yuga contains 60 solar months and 1830 civil days. 

Hence, one civil month=1830 civil days-f-61 civil months=30 days. 

Similarly, a solar month=- 60 =30J days, 

«m u \\ ii 

"The stars, Ardra, Citra, Visakha, Sravana and Asvayuj arc awe-inspiring 
(Ugra) while Magha, Svati, Jyestha, Mula and that of Yama (i.e. BharanI) 
are of cruel nature/' 

Our present-day books on 'Muhurta' take the awe-inspiring stars as cruel 
also, but they include only Magha and BharanL According to them Ardra, 
Jyestha and Mula are horrifying or sharp-natured stars; but these can also be 
regarded as cruel-natured. Of the remaining stars, Citra is at present regarded 
as soft-natured, Visakha as having a mixed nature, Sravana and Svati as having 
varying (Cala) nature and Asvini as stars of trifling importance. 

This can be rendered as "when the 62nd part of a civil day is subtracted 
from it we get a lunar day (or tithi) and if 60th part be added to it we get a 
solar day; because of this (viz. that the lunar day is shorter than the solar day) 
the intercalary month comes in the middle and at the end of a yuga'\* 

Somakara has given some quotations from Garga ; his commentary describes 
completely the 5-year-yuga system of Vedanga Jyotisa, He has introduced 
a new time unit — 'Lava' — * which is a part of a day* This helps an easy 
understanding of the Garga-quotations. 

TT^tFRR^rsr: TOt«T mm' *ijsw i 
isffrs* wfrofHsngm* feft^^r: it * it 

~ * No. of civil days in a yuga= 1830 

No. of lunar months in a yuga= 62 


Therefore, 1 tithi= ^-^y civil days=gi civil days— 1— £ civil days. 

1 solar month = 30J civil days. 

Therefore, 1 solar day=|i civil day$~§£civildays=l + £ civil days. 


°g 6 History of Indian Astronomy 

tWTnjlpfa: TST^TTSlWfsRSr* for | 

*feSTOTWTf #^T' =*Tr* ITR* f^ *?5cT: 1 1 tM I- * 
*W* *r^ftf * STR^T ffRTT^T: I 

xwi 5WHt <| fTf^JT' 5T?T ( W ) 'T^TS II ? o || 
5WT«FT SWprf ?T f T?5T' 5RT (iVi) WW$ I 


The Composition period 

Let us now consider the problem of the "time of Vedanga Jyotisa" It he s 
been told in the 6th verse of Rg- Jyotisa that the winter solstice commences 
from the beginning of Sravistha and the summer solstice from the middle of 
Asresa. At present the sun turns towards north when the sun and the moon 
conjoin near the Purvasadha constellation. The solsticial point is thus seen 
to be gradually receding. This phenomenon is termed "Ayana Calana". 
The equinoctial motion is very accurately known in our time and with its help 
can be found the time when the luni-solar phenomena described in Vedanga 
Jyotisa had occurred. s 

European scholars like Colebrooke have found out the time of Vedansa 
Jyotisa .basing their calculations on the assumption that in those times the 
sun and the moon ronjiracted on the winter solstice day with the beginning 
point of the Dhanistha division, the zodiacal divisions being supposed to 
begin from the Revati star. It amounts to supposing the Alpha-Delphini 
star as the beginning point of Dhanistha division, which is not the case the 
fact being that the star Alpha is in advance of the beginning point bv 4° 11'- 
/^ 5^ Ce ' th ? ^calculated by them is mistaken by an amount of time 
Sjf * I j yea if s) whlch 1S necessa ry for the equinoctial point to recede by 4° 1 1 ' 
^nS wnl statement "™ter solstice began at the beginning of Dhanisthas" 
mean? How can we say that the winter solstice commenced when the sun 
and the moon come near that imaginary point which is the beginning of an 
SE^SF- Dhan*tha diTOon ? And it is a fact that the beginning point of the 
Dhanistha division (which is one of the naksatra divisions belonging to 
Asvinyadi system) is an imaginary point. s s 

* There is some misprint in the reading. It ought to give 1800 as the meaning. 

Vedanga Period 87 

The next important point to remember is that, whatever be the period of 
composition of Vedanga Jyotisa, the fact remains that the Asvinyadi system 
of naksatra division had not come into vogue and hence, the beginning point of 
Dhanistha division belonging to this system was also unknown. The mathemati- 
cians will, therefore, agree that the time calculated on the assumption of the 
sun and the moon's coincidence with this beginning point of Dhanistha 
as the moment of Udagayana, was no doubt mistaken. 

The verses should clearly be taken to mean that the Uttarayana commenced 
when the sun and the moon came near the cluster of 4 or 5 visible st? vs. At 
the moment of winter solstice, the tropical longitudes of both the sun and the 
moon must be 270° or 9 rasis; and because it took place at the beginning of 
Dhanistha, it is evident that the longitude of Dhanistha also used to be 9 
rasis. Keropant regarded Alpha-Delphini as the junction star of Dhanistha ; 
Colebrooke also regards the same. The author has calculated the tropical 
longitude of this star in 1887 A.D. as being 10 s 15° 48' 29" i.e., in excess 
over 270° by 45°-48'. Taking 50" as annual precessional motion of equinoxes, 
the time for this excess comes to be 3297 years. Subtracting this figure from 
1887, we get 1410 B.C. as the year when the longitude of Dhanistha could be 
9 signs i.e. when the winter solstice used to take place near the Dhanistha 
stars. This comes to be the time of Vedanga Jyotisa. If we regard Beta- 
Delphini as the junction-star as supposed by Prof. Whitney, the time would 
prove to be 72 years earlier, and since all the stars in this asterism lie within 
a degree, the time of the 'Jyotisa work' will not much vary. On an average 
1400 B.C. should be regarded as the time. Colebrooke and others calculate 
the time as follows: — > 

The equinox used to occur near the Zeta-Piscium star near about the year 
572 A.D. In those days the winter solstice used to take place at the end of the 
first quarter of the Uttarasadha naksatra division instead of in the beginning 
of Dhanistha, as described by Vedanga Jyotisa. A shifting of 1 f naksatras i.e. 
23° 20' had then taken place. The time for this shift at the rate of 50" per year 
comes to be 1680 years. Hence, the winter solstice used to occur near the 
beginning of Dhanisthas about the year (1680-572) or 1108 B.C. The figure 
is shorter by 300 years because of the supposition that Udagayana used to take 
place "in the beginning of the Dhanistha division". It has already been 
pointed out above that the time should be calculated on the basis that winter 
soltice took place near a star of Delphini group.* 

The time of composition of Vedanga jyotisa as astronomically calculated 
by the author is quite correct beyond doubt; but some European scholars 
on philological grounds, .believe it to be "not so old". They attempt to bring 
the times of our ancient works as later as possible. Max Muller writes that 
it was composed in the 3rd century B.C. Prof. Weber even suspects it to have 
been written in the 5th century A.D. Let us, therefore, examine this point 
more critically. 

*The precessional motion is gradually increasing at a very slow rate. It might have 
been a bit smaller than 50" in 1400 B.C. Taking 48" as the motion, the above calculated 
time would come to be smaller by about 1 35 years. The time calculated by Colebroolce 
and others differs from the one viz. 1108 B.C. etc. calculated by me because of the assump- 
tion of -different precessional motions and of different years for the conjunction of 
equinoctial point with the Zeta-Piscium star. 

88 History of Indian Astronomy 

Varahamihira says:— • 

srisRnwf afar: v*#Pra *mfecre^t**a ti wn vt*t fa*%: 

*0 tf o 3f€HXT ^ 

VfaPWT ?TST*ffcr tffJWWf "jT^gcf: li 

After describing the astronomical positions of the sun at the commence- 
ments of Ayanas (Solstices) in the times of Vedanga Jyotisa , he remarks "as 
told in ancient Sastras". The whole trend of the description shows that in his 
time (near about Saka year 427) the Vedanga Jyotisa had come to be regarded 
as "very old". He has, in his Pitamaha Siddhanta (which was a part of 
Panca Siddhantika) given some mathematical formulae, which had been out 
of use in his time as being very old; and the author has shown in 'Part Two% 
that the formulae resembled with those given by Vedanga Jyotisa. 

Brahmagupta says, 

Setoff g<?TF»Rf T^clT *?T^T *TCT fe^^RT II 

This shows that at the time of Brahmagupta and Varahamihira the Pitamaha 
Siddhanta was being regarded as having been written very many years ago. 

A good many quotations from Garga have been given before; it appears 
that Vedanga Jyotisa occupied an important place in his time. Even Parasara 
says:— ■ 

*tf3ns3Tsmq>nTO* ^rca: fcrftnit ^fer: 1 1 

This gives the same solar position for winter solstice as given by Vedanga 
Jyotisa. This shows that it must have been composed long before these 
two seers lived. Although the Samhitas composed by Garga and Parasara 
do describe the Vedanga Jyotisa, the circumstances for a winter solstice 
to occur at the commencement of Dhanistha had no doubt altered. While 
commenting on the portion 'Apraptamakara' in Chapter 3, Brh. Sam., 
Bhatotpala has quoted the following verse:—* 

ParaSara's verse also has been quoted above. These verses show that 
Vedanga Jyotisa was composed long before the times of Garga and Parasaraj 
but it is very difficult to fix up their times. Garga has been a very famous 
astrologer in India (See Gadaparva, Chap. 8, verses 14 and 15), The name of 
Garga has occurred a number of times in Patanjal-Mahabhasya; and one comes 
across the names of ParaSara and Garga even in Panini (Stee 4-3-110, 
4-10-105, etc.). The two, therefore, must have lived before Panini and Vedanga 
Jvotisa was composed long before them. According to Dr. Bhandarkar, 

VBbANGA Period 89 

Paninr s time comes to be the beginning of 7th century B.C. and a^ording to 
late V Kunte it was the beginning of 9th century B.C. The words Sam* 
vatsara pSKalsam etc." olcur inPanini (See 5-1-92) and the measures of 
Adhaka andKharietc., as described by Vedanga Jyotisa were in use m Pani- 
nTs ; time (See r 5-1-53) These support the view that Vedanga Jyotisa existed 
fong brfo« ^Paniui Another important consideration leads one to believe that 
?wls composed in those times when the Vedic methods of ^onjingijamr 
fices were well known and perfectly set up in society, as can be seen from the 
lac that ^danga Jyotisa has specially described the method of calcula ting, 
the ''Visuvln"'day correctly, this day being regarded as the most important 
one by Aitareya and Taittiriya Brahmana. Now, although some philological 
eSces like the words hatha Sikha Mayurdnam" might appear to be 
modem it can nofbe said so about all other verses Dr. Martm Haugsays 
fin his lecture ontheVedas) "the word 'Gharma' has been used by Vedanga 
TvotYi to mean a 'dav f (See verse 7 Ilk-reading). The use of the word 
£ this sen™ become out of use long before Yaska who lived before 
Panini. • 

The Vedanga Jyotisa must, therefore, have been written near about the 
times of composition of 'Srauta and Smarta sutras' i. e. between 1200 and 
600 ^C There ^e no evidences of the nature of astronomical terms th a t 
Vedfnga jyotisa belonged to an earlier period. It used a termmo ogy differ- 
^t from the one in which number are indicated by words e.g. the number 
Wta denoted by the word Veda: Prof. Weber says that the names of 
naksatras given by Vedanga Jyotisa are like those found in modern^ooks and 
^^fffeOlSi^BMsalso. The author has already translated the verse in 
^^^^cS^^iSL^ihBt^ only Vedanga Jyotisa does 
™* riw R&ISiames but also it does not give naksatra-names which are cur- 
Ztl Xmodem tiSe ! Of the list of naksafras, the ^-versio^learty gives he 
name of only one star, and that too as Sravistha and not as Dhamstha of the 
modern times The verse No. 36 of Yajurveda version gives names of 9 stars, 
S3 he S gives Asvayuk as the ancient name and not as ff mi for^ne of 
ihrm while others are modern names. Similarly, verse No. 14 of SJc-version 
Ws a list of symbolic names of stars which can help one in differentiating 
ancient nits S modern ones, e.g. Asvayuk and Satabhisak which are 
aSt names It no doubt contains a n^ame, ^giSta 
modern vet it is not similar to the name ^Srona" of the Taittiriya Brahmana. 

S?SSdtobe called as Sravanaeven ^^^fSSf^S^ 
m> 47-48) and of Paninl (see Pamni, 4. 2.5; 4.2.23). Froi. weoer s f*gi^=^ 
do' not therefore, deserve consideration. All the above considerations will 
s^upporUhe aXr's view that we must accept that time for the composition of , 
Vedanga Jyotisa which one gets on grounds of astronomical calculation. 

The Place of Composition. 

T et us attempt to find out the place of its composition on the basis of 
statements about length of the day as given by Vedanga Jyotisa The verse 
^ Tl ArRrversion^savthat the daily increase in the length of day is /61 
Sdil a J th! the I SSff^toticial ^ are 24 and 36 ghatis re spectively 
ffSSa'' i e length of half-day comes to be respectively 12 and 18 
Ihatis ^d the correS for ascensional difference is 3 ghatis ; The sxm 
IcqSes" maximum declination on the two occasions The £»*&*%£ 
maximum decl ination about the year 1400 B.C. used to oe zj 

*See pages 48-50 of planetary tables by Keropant. 


History of Indian Astronomy 

^Itw m ,l Cal t W ^ rks g i Ve \ to be 24 °' Let us tf y to fin d ^ the following 
method the stations where both the values can be true:— 

3 gStfcls'r 8111 (A - D ° XC0t < declin ) = tan < lat - of P 1 **). Here, A.D.= 

(i) L sin 18°=9.489982 
L cot 24°= 10.351417 
Therefore L tan (lat.)=9.841399 
» latitude=34° 45'.8 

(ii) L sin 18 =9.489982 

Lcot 23° 53' =10.353801 

/. L tan (lat.)=9.843783 

.*. latitude=34° 54' 

i« JEw w W fJ hat I 1 ?. & ce of composition must be a place whose latitude 

n lenPtf, Ttf r°\ 3 * 5 ' P e Work gives 4 ' 61 n5di as the dail V **<«** 
»*«. £ 1S , that the increase is never constant. It is minimum 

wnentne sun goes to solstices and is maximum when it comes to equinoxes. 

nniv F/^i Ce i n J^°i e 35 °' th - e increase in len Sth of day would be found to be 

S?/2i I $ U ( 2 J the most) m two days near about solsticial days and about 
5f/61 ghatis per day on or about equinoxial days. 

Ayana Calana (Shifting of Equinoxes) 

witWhoY 6 *??^ J ?° ti§a m , entions the commencement of a Yuga as coincident 
thk th£ tw if J mte F wlstice and also that of Dhanistha. It is clear from 
this that they had no idea of shifting of equinoxes in those times. 

Detailed information about length of a year etc. in the Vedanga Jyotisa Period 

in a Yuga 

(1) Solar months 

(2) Lunar 


(3) Intercalary 
months 2 

( 4) Civil days 


(5) Tithis i860 

(6) Ksaya 

No. of days 
in a year 


Dates of equinoxes 

(i) Vaisakha S. 3 
(ii) Kartika S. 9 

Dates of \ Omitted 

of seasons 


(7) Sidereal 


(i) Vaisakha S. 15 
(ii) Kartika K. 6 

Magha S. 1 
Caitra S. 3 
Jyesjha S. 5 
Sravana S. 7 
Asvina S. 9 
S. 11 

(i) Vaisakha K. 12 
(u) Kartika S. 3 

Magha S. 13 
Caitra S. 15 
Jyestha K. 2 
Sravana K. 4 
Asvina K. 6 
K. 8 

Caitra S. 2 
Jyestfia S. 4 
Sravana S. 6 
ASvina S. 8 
Margasirsa S 10 


(8) Naksatras 1809 

Vj-ddhi naksatras 

(?) ' 21 i 

Magha K. 10 
Caitra K. 12 
Sravana S. 1 
Asvina S. 3 
S. 5 



S. 12 
S. 14 
K. 1 
K. 3 
K. 5 

Margasirsa K. 7 

Magha K. 9 

Caitra K. 11 

Jyestha K. 13 

Sravana K. 30 

Asvina S. 2 



Vedanga Period 



(i) Vaisakha S. 9 
(ii) Kartika S. 15 


(i) Vai&kha K. 6 
(ii) Kartika K. 12 




Magha S. 7 
Caitra S. 9 
Jyestha S. 11 
Havana S. 13 
Asvina S. 15 
K. 2 

Magha K. 4 
Caitra K. 6 
Jyestha K. 8 
Sravana K 10 
Asvina K. 12 

t£. 14 


Magha S. 6 
Caitra S. 8 
Jyestha S. 10 
Sravana S. 12 
Asvina S.14 

" Ki 1 

Magha K. 3 
Caitra K. 5 
Jyestha K. 7 
Sravana K. 9 
Asvina K. 11 

K. 13 
Magha K. 30 


The dates on which the ayanas in a Yuga begin are already given on p. 71. 
The dates of coihmencement of seasons are given in the above table! It 
should be noted that (i) between each pair of these dates, one more solar 
month falls. These two lists together would give 60 dates of month-beginnings, 
(ii) The first intercalary month is inserted between Asadha and Sravana of the 
3rd year (after 30 lunar months have elapsed after Yugadi), and the second 
is inserted after 30 more lunar months elapse^ that is, after Pausa *of the 
5th year. Thus Sravana and Magha always happen to be intercalary months 
in each Yuga. (iii) Because one yuga consists of 1830 civil days and 1860 
tithis, the number of 'Lapsed tithis' comes out to be 30. (iv) Similarly, because 
the moon revolves 67 times during the period, the number of naksatras through 
which it passes would be 67 x 27= 1 809 and hence, in 1 830 civil days the increase 
in their number becomes 21. The naksatra cycle begins from Sravisfhas 
(See verses 25 to 27, Rk-version). Under Vedanga Jyotisa system the moon 
and the sun are supposed to move by a uniform motion, which is termed 
as "mean motion" in astronomical works; and because a mean tithi is shorter 
than a mean civil day, a tithi-vrddhi can never occur ; so also a ' 'lapsed naksatra'* 
can never occur because the mean length of a naksatra is greater than a civil day. 

The Paiicanga 

The above discussion will make it clear that once a 5-yearly calendar is 
compiled, it would serve the purpose for all yugas to come. The detailed 
panchang can not be given here for its being very extensive; its salient features 
are, of course, described above. 


History of Indian Astronomy 

Let us now examine the correctness of the lengths of the year and of 
other units of time. 


Number of civil days 
in a yuga. 



Modern European 


1826.2819 (Sidereal) 

No. of days in 
62 lunar months 




No. of civil days 
in 95 years 

No. of days in 
1178 lunar months 



34770 34787.03 

34699.36 (Sidereal Yr.) 
34698.03* (Tropical Yr.) 


This shows that while the error in the measure of a lunar month is very 
.small, that in the solar year is big**. The result is that if the first 'ayana* 
would take place on a Magha Sukla 1 of a certain Yuga, it will not take place 
on the same tithi of the next yuga but 4 days earlier; similarly, after 95 years 
it will take place some 72 days earlier and so on. The error in the measure of 
a mnar month is very small; yet, because the cumulative error would amount 
to 54 ghajis m 5 years, there will be an error of about one day in 5 years, even 
if we reckon full moons and new moons according to the Vedanga Jyotisa< 
system. But, although the error in the case of ayanas is not easily detectable* 
that in the case of Purnima and Amavasya can be readily found. From 
this, it seems that they must have taken 1830 as the round figure for the number 
of civil days m a yuga, while reckoned by actual observations of the positions 
ol ttie moon on full-moon days, it must have been coming to about 1831 
days; and because the number of lunar months in 95 years (including 38 inter- 
calary months) being taken to be 1178, the number of civil days in 19 yugas 
?L™ y ear f would actually come to be 34787 or (according to Vedanga Jyotisa) 
34770, and the next Magha Sukla 1 would again be so after 95 years' and would 
be the first tittu of the 96th year. But the fact remains that 95 solar years 

Tu OU Hl 0nsls \ of 3 ?? 98 days ' which shows that th e winter solstice (coming in 
the 96th year) would fall 89 days (or at least 72 days) earlier than the Magha 

t ° -i u- year ' which amounts to a difference of 2\ to 3 lunar months. 
io avoid this the number of intercalary months should not be taken as 38 
(as per Vedanga Jyotisa system), but only 35 ; otherwise a difference of 3 seasons 
would occur in 200 years. This is too much to be neglected. 

♦This is calculated from the length of a solar year in 1400 B. C. 

is atl? 1 "/^ ^ a « hunath Lele observes that the measure of the length of the solar year 
ft 8 ^^ u ^ andSl ^ d ^ rw ^ andtheEu ^P eanScholars a»so maintain the s am evlew. 
cvct Jf 5°^ P^^oS^ Vedafi 8 a J yoti?a was composed in a period in the previous 
366 (Us '" e ' yCarS ag °' When the Iength of a ycar migh * ^ bQen actually 

Vedanga Period 95 

Such a wrong system could not have remained in vogue all over the country 
for a long time; and we can not but believe that the Vedanga Jy6ti§a system 
was not in practice for a very long time. The intercalary months, decayed 
tithis and excess naksatras recur in the same order and these things have 
much religious importance. The intercalary month is regarded as 'Censurable* 
even in the Vedas. If, therefore, the Vedanga Jyotisa system had been in use in 
all provinces and for a long time we would have come across their references 
in 'Sutra 5 works. This shows that it must have remained in use, if at all,,. 
in only some provinces. The fate of increase in the length of day (as given 
by Vedanga Jyotisa) is applicable only to a place on latitude 34° N. But 
this does not in any manner stand in the way of our supposing 1400 B.C. 
as the probable date of that work. The Taittiriya Sruti gives 4 names for 
the years, sometimes 5 or even 6. The reason for this, the author believes, 
must be that the '5-y ear-cycle' system of Vedanga Jyotisa did not come into 
vogue fully then. It was perhaps found that the 'ayanas* repeat with respect 
to lunar months in a cycle of 5 years, and this must have led them to adopt 
either 4 years or 6 years for the cycle. It may be that there might not have 
been any fixed cycle in use and then the author of Vedanga Jyotisa might have 
calculated 366 days as the average length of a year and introduced a fixed 
system of a 5-year-cycle. It is even probable that people must have either 
discarded the system as wrong or allowed it to continue, adjusting the insertion 
of intercalary months in their proper place, viz. 35 in place of 38 during a 
period of 95 years. Almost all our religious rites are performed on the proper 
lunar positions since time immemorial, and they have found it convenient 
to adjust the calculation to a correct solar time by adjusting the insertion 
of intercalary months. The author has already observed in Section 1 that in his 
opinion, this was the system in vogue even in the Vedic times. It requires 1000 
years to pass for changing the position of winter solstice with respect to a 
naksatra; and they could have controlled the occurrence of winter solstice 
in Dhanistha in the beginning of Magha and retention of 5 names for the 5 
years, by careful adjustment of intercalary months in their proper place, and 
could have continued the system for some centuries. In short, it can be said 
that, even if the Vedanga Jyotisa system would have been out of use. in its 
original form, it must have continued in some other form and that is why 
we get references about it in astronomical works by Garga and others. It 
will be shown in a discussion in Part Two, that the Jovian sixty-year cycle owed 
its origin to this "5 year-cycle*' system. That this system has got a place in the 
list of Vedangas (parts of the Vedas) is itself something very important. It can* 
not be said for certain as to when it obtained that elevated position, but the 
author believes that it must have received that importance within 200 years 
of its origin, i.e. before the time when it was found useless in its original form 
for religious purposes. Varahamihira does ^not call it a 'Vedanga', but it 
was definitely so at his time. Brahmagupta (Saka 550) at one place says :— 

3Tr^mm ^^ T N^d f ^^Hd^4^d II \ M 

The word 'Anga' occurring in this appears to be used to denote Vedanga 
Jyotisa. At present it is regarded a part of the Vedas (Vedanga). 

Apapatha (Deformed Readings) 

It can not be said for certain as to when the incorrectness entered in the 
readings of Rg-Jyotisa; but the quotation of Varaha viz. "Paiicasatpala- 

94 History of Indian Astronomy 

has taken latter Hf of verse No 32fflk LS?„ 8 ? 8 - re "P ectlv ^ Bhatotpala 
penultimate verse of chapter 8 o ? B?^ to^^^T?^ 0n ^ e 
amanuscrintconv nf tf ? k««v • iT- ^^ *?" The au *hor finds the same in 
d manuscript copy ot the book in his possession. It runs thus, 

ww* <Nro*% ^T^fTFT ftwtar II 
Here the word 'Pancamasya' seems to be a misprint It oueht tn h<> 
^Pancavarsasya^ Similarly, the Vaidikas read ^Kksate'' S? olace of 
Nibodhata" Hence, if 'Nibodhata' be the original readS by Bhatotoala 

wanfo^fu^^^^^ Can n0t be Said to be a fi -l word on it tSr 

Pradhana Patha(The Principal Readings) 

words'fromNh?™ lT$lf* " ■ imU ^ hl meanin § to ' but diffe ™t in 
IKtpaS!' Rk-version and quoted by Varahamihira and 

nu JS* 8 * hows * hat th ^ Vaidic Brahmins in the times of Varahamihira and 
Bhatotpala used to recite the Rk-reading (and not the Yajur one) haits correct 
form; it can be said that the people at least paid greater ZnltaMtoSte 
Rigyeda-reading. The commentator of Aryabhatiyafnamed IH^yataE 

tn h^tif n 1 tW + °/ erSeS fl ° m Veda ^ a J y oti ^ a in his commentary T^seTappen 
to be ; the last two verses, viz. 35th & 36th of the Rigveda- version and are £ven 

^^^^T^f °v er ? f ^^vediversion-therfthey sS 
respectively 4th and 3rd— and looking to the context of the commentarv ;t 
seems that the taking of first or last verses at that place was quto"a°onable 

™e° to™" *$£$°° ° ( ?V* °?*- th ^read1nl w^cTmidt d 
a^oTS^^^ is »<" known, but he 

any of the two Vedic-W works/ 1^ ,hereC»h^™ r d sS 1Sev^ 

appears to be an ancient one; because only six verses from Rk- version Tre nS 
found in it, and of these six only three important ones v?z. 13th 9?h 33rd 

b s?en S1 to g ' b d^W^r?^^** 1 - rblXnimt^y 
«fiJv?L u ° ng to the penod when Vedanga-Jyotisa was in vosue and 
might have been composed by Lagadha himself* Also, 'the^st o 'cral and 
hornf yirig naksatras given in the 36th verse of Yajurljyotis idSci ™t talW 
with that given by other astronomical works. y 

u 7il iS o h ,°^ Sthat - the Y aJur-Jyotisa belonged to a comparatively later nerfnd 
But the 24th verse is quite different in words and the 21?t is mSSv JSE^i 
from similar verses in Rg-Jyotisa, and those of the verses (f S£bSSth?^5) 

meaning ThS^ """V "1% be S i milar and others ^ ht bV oppose ^ 
meaning. This leads one to believe that some verses not comoosed hv T »aZih, 

were toer on interpolated in the Yajur- Jyotisa. The sZ^ ^e^t 
*See "Introduction to Aryabhatlya" by Dr. Kern. ~ 

Vedanga Period 95 

both the readings is not logical; if an attempt be made to re-write them in the 
logical order of topics, the order of verses 1 will change much; and this shows 
that the present order of verses is a result of an attempt at composition by 
a later writer and in so doing, some of the original verses must have been 
lost for ever. For instance, the units of Kastha and Aksara have been men- 
tioned in the same verse, although they bear no relation to other units and they 
are not seen to have been used anywhere in the text; but the words could not 
have come in without any reason. These support the author's belief that some 
original verses must have been lost. 

Planetary motions* 

Vedanga Jyotisa has given the motions of the Sun and the Moon only. 
It mentions nothing about other planets. Although some vetoes are found 
illegible, the author can say for certain that they do not give any other important 

Mean motions of planets 

The motions of the Sun and the Moon as given by Vedanga Jyotisa are 
mean motions, but since these motions change every moment, the 
sun's true place differs from the mean place by about 2 degrees* and that of 
the moon by about 8 degrees. It cannot be said for certain if they in Vedanga 
Jyotisa's time knew how to calculate the difference between true and mean 
place of a planet, the term now being known to us as "Equation of centre". 
Brahmagupta, however, remarks in his couplet given on page 93 that astro- 
nomers of these times did not have any knowledge of planets' true places. 

One will not be able to detect the difference between the true and mean 
motions and positions of the sun and the moon unless one observes their places 
and motions regularly and studies them. This difference would come to 
one's notice at the time of eclipses if one knew that eclipses take place near 
the ending moments of Full Moon or New Moon, It is nevertheless a matter 
of pride to us that they in Vedanga Jyotisa's time had at least the knowledge 
of sun's and moon's motions, if not of their true places. The daily mean 
motion and the time for their complete revolution can not be found unless one 
actually records and calculates the time that the sun and the moort take in 
a finite number of revolutions, and it is clSar that people had obtained this, 
much knowledge before the compilation of Vedanga Jyotisa. The measure 
of a solar year appears to have been mistaken because of the fact that the 
naksatras near about the sun are never visible. 

The adoption of mean motions (to the sun and the moon) by Vedanga 
Jyotisa brought the solstices and equinoxes at the distance of 183 days from 
one another and the distance of one solstice from the next eqiiinox comes to be 
91J days. But their actual relative distances before the year 1400 B.C. used 
to be as given below :— 

Distance Days Ghatis 

From Winter Solstice to Vernal Equinox . . . 915 

„ Vernal Equinox to Summer Solstice '...*. 94 5 

„ Summer Solstice to Autumnal Equinox - . . 91 30 

„ Autumnal Equinox to Winter Solstice . . . 88 35 

365 15 

* One degree being 360th part of a full circular measure. 

96 History of Indian Astronomy 

The Year 

The words 'Varsa'and 'Samvatsara' are found used in Rg-Jyoti§a to denote 
a year. The Yajur- Jyotisa gives an additional word Abda for it (See 28th 
verse). The words 'Yarsa' and 'Abda' occur only in Satapatha Brahmana of 
the Vedic literature. 

The Month 

The months ended with New Moon in this system. 

The First Nakf atra 

The first naksatra according to Vedanga Jyotisa is Dhanistha. The list of 
controlling deities of nak§atras as given in ]£k verses 25, 26 and 27 begins, as in 
the Yedas from Krttikas. One comes across a reference of the Dhanisthadi 
system in the Mahabharata. The sixty-year cycle and 12-year Jovian cycle 
begin from Dhanisthas. 


People in Vedanga Jyotisa time knew four fundamental rules and the rule 
of three. Not only this, but one can say from verses 7, 14,16,17,18 
and 22 of Rk-reading and 37th verse of Yajur-reading that they had knowledge 
of these rules about fractions also. Also the use of shortcuts like Apavarta 
(simplification) etc. shows that they had taken much pains over the mastery 
of arithmetic. 

The Ascendant (Lagna) 

The line "Sravisthabhyam" etc. in verse 19 of Rk-reading suggests that 
they had the idea of Lagna i.e. ascendant. The astronomical works define 
Lagna as the point of the ecliptic in contact with the horizon. The above 
verse should be regarded as very important if it means to say something like 
the definition. 

Mesa and other signs 

Tt does not mention any Rasis (signs) nor was then the system of stating 
a planet's place with respect to 12 divisions of the ecliptic- The positions of 
the sun and the moon are given with respect to naksatras. 

Solar Months 

Although no mention of Mesa and other signs is made, the solar months 
are stated. The word Suryairiasa actually occurs, and the relation between 
the solar and lunar months is given in clear terms at good many places* A 
season is mentioned to consist of 2 solar months or of 4| solar-naksatras and 
the lunar months with the tithis on which the seasons commence are also 
specifically mentioned. Again, it contains a method somewhat similar to the 
one of calculating 'Adhimasa&esa' with respect to the solar and lunar months 
and described by Surya-Siddhanta and similar other works (See verse 23, 
Rk-version). No solar month had any independent (special) names. These 
were perhaps named as Caitra, VaiSakha, etc-, as we find with regard to solar 
months in Bengal. 

Parvagana (i.e. number of lunations) 

This work describes a method of calculating the "parvagana* or number 
of parvas or lunations elapsed from the commencement of Yuga, much on 
the lines of calculating 'Ahargana' as described by Surya Siddhanta and others. 

Vedanga Period * 97 

Identical divisions for time and space 

Discussion of this topic will be completed after recording a more important 
thing. It is the identical division system for both time and space, which 
came into existence from the time Vedanga Jyotisa was compiled. In astro- 
nomical works like Siirya-Siddhanta we find exact similarity in the divisions 
and subdivisions of time and space as described below : — 

60 Palas 

= 1 Ghat&a 

60 Vikalas 

*= 1 Kala 

60 Ghatikas 

= 1 Day 

60 Kalas 

= 1 Amsa 

30 Days 

= 1 Month 

30 Amsas 

= 1 RaSi . 

12 Months 

360 Days 

= 1 Year 

360 Amsas 

= 1 Perimeter 
of a circle 

Under Vedanga Jyotisa system the time division and space divisions are 
identical. The naksatra is supposed to be divided into 610 Kalas; and a day 
is supposed to be divided into 603 parts, because the moon passes over so 
many parts {i.e. 603 Kalas) of a naksatra in 1 day. This subdivision of a day 
into 603 parts might be found inconvenient for calculation, but this subdivision 
is convenient when naksatras are concerned. The time division is seen to have , 
been suggested by space division- Similarly, the division of 1 yuga into 124 
parvas had suggested the division of one naksatra into 124 parts or 'Amsa\ 
This is an example of a time division suggesting a space division. Now looking 
to the fact that the above system was actually in vogue in Vedanga Jyotisa 
period and that from Vedic times the relations "1 year=360 days, 1 solar 
year=12 months, 1 month=30 days and 1 day=60 nadikas " have remained 
in general use, can we not say that these were sufficient enough easily to suggest 
an Aryan mind that a circular space be divided into 12 parts and each part 
into 30 subdivisions and that the current space-subdivisions are a result of 
independent thinking on the part of the Aryans? 

The time units 

Let us now turn to the study of Atharva Jyotisa. This consists of 14 
chapters and 162 verses. This has been told to Kasyapa by Pitamaha. *The 
author explains its topics briefly. 

The time units are given as follows :— 

12 Nimesa = 1 Lava 30 Trutis = 1 Muhiirta 

30 Lavas = 1 Kala 30 Muhurtas = 1 Ahoratra 

30 Kalas = 1 Truti (whole day) 

These are followed by a list of names of 15 Muhurtas whose measure is com- 
pared with the length of a gnomon 12 'angulas' long. The Muhurtas are :— 

Muhurta Shadow length Muhurta Shadow length 

(in angulas) - (in angulas) 

1. Raudra 96 (max.) 5. Savitra 5 

2. Sveta 60 6. VairSja 4 

3. Maitra 12 7. ViSvavasu 3 

4. Sarabhata 6 8. Abhijit 

98 History of Indian Astronomy 

Abhijit has been described as that Muhurta in which the shadow does 
not alter in length or direction. The lengths of shadows of Muhurtas coming 
after noon increase in the reverse order. It cannot be said that the shadow 
at noon is of zero length, but it must be shorter than 3 angulas. The place 
where this Jyotisa was compiled can be found out from this condition; but 
because the lengths of shadows are not the same throughout the year and it is 
not an important problem worthwhile attempting, the author leaves out of 
consideration the problem of finding the place. 

The Karanas and Auspicious times 

As we proceed further on we come across instructions about the duties 
to be performed on particular muhurtas e.g. horrorful acts to be done on Rau- 
dra (Terrifying) Muhurta, and friendly acts to be done on Maitra Muhurta, The 
fourth chapter gives a list of Karanas (of Tithis) with their names which are like 
those of our present time. Of the stationary Karanas "Kimstughna" is sub- 
stituted by "Kaustubha". It may be a writer's error. Further on, we find 
a classification of Karanas responsible for auspicious and inauspicious acts 
and the ghatika has been adopted as a time-unit for them. Further on are 
given, as at present, names of deities controlling the Karanas. They include 
the Dhan&dhipa of Kaustubha and Manibhadra of Vanija. The names of 
regaining deities are those from the Vedas. Next we find a discussion as to 
which acts, when done oh particular tithis, would give auspicious or inauspicious " 
results. This list of tithis includes 5 names like Nanda and Bhadra— > 

This verse gives only four "Angas" (i.e. parts) viz. Tithi, Naksatra, Karana 
and Muhurta, and not the Yogas. 

fM^?*pn sft^TT wr ^ ^wi n wrr^rcjim: 5jtar:-vr*f tftesufasf n &o n 
nf&Mujt *ft*rc?nTT qftsflrafcrai h to siwit: sNm?ren»ia«**i««? u e* ii 

These verses discuss the auspicious or inauspicious nature of planets depending, 
of course, on the "strength" of the moon; and the words "Na Krsnapakse 
sasinah prabhdvah" suggest the moon's strength varies with the number of 

Vara or names of days and names of planets 

The following verse gives names of seven days in a week calling the planets 
as 'Lords of days'. 

Other verses give following more names of planets as being applicable to names 
of days:— Surya, Lohitanga, Somasuta, Devaguru, Guru, Bhrgu, Sukra, 

Jataka branch of Astrology 

After passing over 100 verses, one comes across the quotation . 

Vedanga Period 99 

which is followed by 62 more verses. This portion contains the seeds of 
predictional section of astrology Jataka and is, therefore, an important 
■one. Some of the verses are given below : 

The naksatras are divided into 9 groups:— 

««r ^§«f jrErcf a*rr *^ ^ftetf 1 1 srerc tfau* fnrriswH^f ^r^tf 1 1 \o%.u 



tfa& sat r a 



1 Naksatra 
at birth 

10 Nak. for action 19 Nak. for foundation 




20 Sampatkara Nak. 




21 Vipatkara Nak. 




22 Ksemya Nak. 




23 Pratvara Nak. . 




24 Sadhaka Nak. 



. 16 

25 Naidhana Nak. 




26 Maitra Nak. .; 




27 Paramamaitra Nak. 

Each group consists of 3 naksatras separated by 9. These are to be reckoned 
from the naksatra at birth ; this is clear from verse No. 104. The next verses 
ordain to do or not to do certain acts on these naksatras and by the next verse 

*^T5Tfaf*T*?& ^Sfif 5^ qteSTCT 1 1 *C§^ ^fa ^ ^S^t^NcT: II V& II 
The author describes the fears and horrors which befall when certain naksatras 
are accompanied by planets, electric charges, meteors etc. It is evident that 
by the word 'graha' the planets Sun, Moon and others are meant. Further 
on something is stated about conception and the discussion is closed by*the 
verses: — ■ 

3TrcH3*ftF?refa?ira?f mwvti m4v&r 1 1 a?*ra: f^sm^ *?re*ro* *r^?*w 

_ ■ N ?V? II 

ii *V* n 

No mention is made that the work is to be called Atharva Jyotisa; still 
that it is so is borne by the evidence of the last verse ending with the remark 
2DGO/59 8 

100 History of Indian Astronomy 

It is clear from its topics that this Jyotisa is not so ancient as the Rk or 

Yaiur-Jyotisas, still the old consideration of the fact that if the Mesadi rasis 

would have been in vogue in the time of the author of this work, they would 

rtainly have occurred in the text, leads one to accept that the Atharya 

otisa is pretty old and because it is so called, the author took it for 

scussion at this place. 

One more important point, worth remembering, is that while no mention 

is made of 12 rasis, the names of days (Vara) do occur; this point will be 

considered later on. ' 

This work describes a system of astrology, very akin to and not quite 
different from, the one which is based on 12 rasis and is in use in our country; 
and no doubt can be entertained about the fact that this system of astrology 
originated and had been independently developed in our country. It seems 
probable that although the Hindus are said to have borrowed the 12 rasis from 
foreigners, they developed the Rasi- Jyotisa on the already known lines of 
astrology related to naksatras. 


Asvalayana Sutra 

Names of naksatra months are found in Asvalayana Sutra. "Sravanyaip 
Paurhamasyam&avanakarmcrisdLn example (See Grhya Sutra 2-1-1). lUe 
names of months like Madhu, Madhava, etc. are also found (Srauta Sutra 
4-12) At one place, a reference about seasons in the same quotation shows 
that Spring was regarded as the first season. .Although thewd tithi does 
not occur explicitly, the quotations (i) "Margaiiwam Pratyavaroha^arp 
Caturdasydm" (Gr. S. 2-3-1) (ii) "HemantaWirayoscaturndmaparapaksa- 
namastamisvastaka'h" (Gr. S. 2-4-1) (iii) « Adhyayopakatanarn J r «V™l 
asya Pancdmydm" (3-5) etc. show that the words Caturdasi, Astami, Pancami 
stand for tithis. ' References about Ayana and Visuva occur at good many 
places. The references about naksatras show that some are used in dual 
form zs^Uttarayoh Prosthapadayoh' (Gr. S. 2-1) and in masculine gender 
plural number also as in 'Uttaraih prosthapadaiK (Gr. S. 2-10-3). In Taittmya 
Brahmanas, both these star-names are used in masculine and plural number. 
The names of Pole star(Dhruva), the Great Bear (Saptarsi) and Arundhati 
occur in Gr S. 1-7-22 as " Dhruvamarundhatim Saptarfiniti drtfva vacant 
visrjeta". Definite instruction for doing certain rites on certain auspicious 
naksatras seems to be given in it ; e.g. Fields should be ploughed on the 
Utl ara Prosthapada, Phalguni and Rohini naksatras, sacrifices should begin 
on such and such naksatras (Gr.S. 2-10-3); the thread ceremony should be 
performed on auspicious naksatras ; the Simantonnayanam to be perlormea 
on 'masculine' naksatras conjoined with moon (Gr. S. 1-4-1 , 1-14.) etc. Wmcn 
naksatras were regarded as auspicious and masculine, is not known, ine 
current works on astrology give a list of masculine and feminine naksatras ; 
and the kinds of naksatras are similar to those shown on page 48-5U. Feopie 
might be following the same kind of grouping in Sutra period. 

Paraskara Sutra 

Paraskara Sutra seems to belong to a period later than the Asvalayana 
Sutra. It contains almost all topics discussed by Asvalayana Sutra ; but it 
ordains the "Agrahayanl-karma" to be performed on the full moon day of 

Vbdanga Period 1q1 

iko^^r- ^? ntion of * h is act is made in the Asvalayana Sutra It 
nak,Srf ^rwuttaradifusvataumrgaSirasirohinyaw" as the Hst of 
HasSTiti U TT?r- S -^-- m i rriage - Haradatta defines these as ''Uttarl. 
and AsW^' ™ tara * adha ' Havana, Dhenistha, Uttarabhadrapada, Revatf 

DhaidttM Vn/J! - tent W °^ ks ° n , Mnhtea do n<?t giveCitra, SWana, 
^nanistua and Asvmi as marnage-naksatras. Similarly JvestM ha< h£« 

KS^S&J'd^t*' md &$' The ^7f mStnXata" 
SarLS ?5 -t. a d ? es not a « ree Wlth that given by another. This Sutra 
ff^bot d oTtl be fi th + e reS ^£ a cbild ^th takes place on MGla Naksa £ 
ft be w ° + ? ^ first part, the-father dies; if on the second, the mother- if 
i2 n K 0n the £V he lQSS of money and corn results and the wholVfamily 
ffi^iMr.! 1 ^' Iti ^ W ° rth noti ^thatTnaSa 
fra necTss t«tP« f h • ? ^ ? dl ? tlC Were to be divided int0 I2 P a *s, a naksa- 
StoTatoS? Wrth 1V if 10n v!3 t0 4 ^ , Different works express' different 
opinion about birth of children on Mula naksatra. The Taittirrva S"ruti 

feTTrVf^V- T 7 b |- tter S pinion regard ^ bkth on MSrnaSa 
Star" ri % n tL £ araskara + Sutra describes the inauspicious nature of "Asres a 

do not occu"rT ?Uif^ S A 0f T fCalary T* *' tm v f ddhi and nak ? atra vrddhi 
days (7 SfaaO i£r*L A?valavana or Paraskara Sutra. The names of seven 
days (7 varas), the rasis, yogas and karanas also are not found in either of them. 

Other Sutras 

^^^AT!^ ^ SUbje , CtS COuId be g^ered from the Sutra 
worxs , out ne could not get a chance of reading other Sutras. 


the ItTmT™?}™ 1 r -ST- 68 from Nirukta have aIread y been given in 
ectfon o P f the 2n5 Se ^ "^ " K?a * a " have occu " red in «* 25 * 
quota°tion ^X^^^^f*^ "ST* ^ ^^ in ^ 
thoughts* of a surprising ^*JgV^6^^1$^X 
dark-half of a month and winter and summer solsticeswhich occur^n them. 

™ * riwirw ftQtwtw ^^ ^^ ^,^ ^ ^ ?ftr ^ ^ 

worlds ifthewf) foSS Sudv^nf^ qU ? ted b t! ow ' describes h °w Persons go to higher 
(ii) forsake crnel^ dSSfS*?™ tHud^fe^ ultimatel y «^» to doing apenancf or 
"JjfcafajBW* wMWi 6 . ;'. talCe Up °» StU f r ^ nd t ^ So e J l Prance in the end. The statement 
reading. Wc cW«o»^ i*^ ^^ 

102 History of Indian astronomy 

*e*fo fjwfsfnrft swrstfs ^rmr: «rr*ritafo *f?f <jfc*w awft «jHM 
^irt^T^ ^i^wrawrsft *wt **ft fawf fort ^sfepnww *£nnem srfirarf 

Yuga and Othsr Units of Time 

The description about these time units is mostly similar to that found in 
Manusmrti and astronomical works. The Nirukta defines Brahma's one 
<iay as the period of 1000 yugas, no clue being given as to the measure of a 
yuga in years; during this time the creation, maintenance and destruction of 
the Universe take place, Brahma's night also is of the same length (i.e. 
1000 yugas) during which time he sleeps ; the period of 'a day plus a night* 
is called Brahma's "ahoratra". These repeat continuously infinite number 
of times. The period of Brahma's 'ahoratra' is identical with the one known 
as 'Kalpa' to the Surya Siddhanta and other astronomical works. The word 
'Kalpa' does not occur in it. It is needless to say that Nirukta is the most 
ancient of all works which describe the long period of Yuga and other units. 
Although nothing is said about the measure of a yuga in terms of solar years, 
it is certain that it was definitely not so small a measure as five years. How- 
ever the statements on the whole suggest some larger length for this term. 

4. PANINI'S grammar 

One comes across words like 'Varsa' (5-1-88, 7-3-16) and 'Hayana' 
(4-1-27 ; 5-1-130), occasionally found in the Vedas. One can read about lunar 
months denoted by Caitra etc. (4-1-21) and the term 'Muhurta' (indicating 
a part of a day) (3-3-9). Similarly the term 'Nadi' denoting a number one or 
more than one (and not denoting a sinew in the body) occurs in it (5-4-159). 
This shows that the term 'Nadi' was used to indicate some measure of time. 
The term 'tithi' is not found in PaninI ; but one should not say from this that 
the term was unknown to people in Panini's time. This grammatical work 
does not deal with astronomical subjects or religious topics such as the comm- 
ands to do or not to do certain acts on certain naksatras. Hence, we can not 
say that the astronomical terms which do not occur in this work were unknown 
in his time. Also, of the names of yuga's (Krta etc.), the term Kali does 
occur in Panini, but not in the Sense of a yuga ; this is not sufficient to prove 
that the Krta and other units of yuga were unknown in Panini's time. 

Vedanga Period 103 

The names of naksatra's are found in this work. The names 'Pusya* 
and *Sidhya' are found used in place of 'Tisya' (3-1-11 6). Similarly, 'Sravana*' 
used in Atharva-Veda only is found used in place of 'Srona* (See 4*2-23). One 
comes across the statements, "The singular form for Punarvasu (1-2-61) and 
dual for ViSakha (1-2-62) are to be accepted according to 'Chandas' i.e. Vedas",. 
but in no Sruti-works read by him the author finds these naksatra names used 
in the singular. He can not say, if they are found so used in Vedic work not 
known to him. The term 'ProsthapadaMs used in dual and plural (1-2-60). 
Similarly the quotation "Vibhasagrahah"(3-1-143) leads one to suspect that a 
planet was taken to be a star. 

The Yuga-System 

The Yuga system is described in details in the first chapter of Manusmrti. 
The same system is generally given in Puranas and astronomical works. The 
text is, therefore, given below for reference. 

HT^WI?! flW^PI V3 5WT *W*ld: II H**«fl ^TMI 3 *RTO*?tfct<fcrcr I) ^c; \\ 

wprif: 'ET^frf'f ^f«it ?R^?f »^t ii aw arrosft mm xzhtstz crarrfeq': u ^$, m 

as smt^c sr^r "j^m^f : it xtf* <* ?rr*?ftq* ^>cprtMt *m: h \»^ n- • 
aw *ftvgr<UNffi?$ srcrcr: srfafsq^ n srfcrc€?R ««»% *w: {wtuifror u wii 

WH ^f^ finr^ *fi«WM faWOTT U 5RT^Rf 3TT*TCt 5TC*mTCT 5T«5 «T*T fk%: II \sx \\ 
41(^13 ( 1^ fa»4wicH*HiM<t^: Sffa: II ^^T^^TT^ *l^: Sf $ *q5PT«tfr W(i II v»^ || 

f^^w^ fa^t«n3nftT*PTorr: firm: ii sn^n^qT^f^q^^sTrfcr: n vst; u 
scti* dL i **< *w^««jJBRf ■ 3fop *«? ii tfawrtmvi * i wc*fl1*igWE n vse II 

*d»Mc<Wfcft W WW^W V^ *T*I II HWHWW: ^fe5FfTTB«Tr?5rf?|9*l^ IU? (I 
f9^4l<(4|i4;4: <U44IU<M0lMd: II s af\ft*tHHMt i nf^iT5Wpi% IRQ A\ ^ II 
af^Tf: ^%5T«T?^4^5im^rt II ^ *3Tfe>; ;g frm p T g f qfa <n?W: II *3 II 

^*d*Wf*?HfHi*tifei«iw* *>*f«n*r ii <G3RZF£nr *Jtv sorrel wtH^^i it t;v u 
mi vi ^w *ar*i nwijwfr h in* n irfortggfowi f*ft ^ u *\ it 


History of Indian Astronomy 

The lengthy units of time, Krta and others, as described in the above 
verses are given in a tabular form below : — 

Yuga name 


Yuga name 

f Transition 


1 , KRTA 4 Central period 



1 Transition 
^ period 


f Transition 
1 period 


2 , TRETA ^ Central period 


4. KALI 

I Transition 
^ period 


I period 

I Transition 
L period 


Central period 







Total of four Yugas=12,t)00 years=Divine Yuga- 1000 Divine Yugas= 
12,000,000 years=Brahma's day. In this scheme, a divine Yuga is considered 
to be equivalent to 12,000 years ; but it is not clear if these years are to be 
regarded as divine. Now, taking one divine year as equivalent to 360 'human* 
years, the divine yuga will be equivalent to 360 times 12000, that is, equal to 
4,320,000 ordinary human years. In the opinion of Whitney*, the years to 
be divine years is not Manu's idea, it has been the result of later 
thought. But this is not correct. 

That the divine year is a period far greater than an ordinary year was 
a well known idea, even before Manu. A quotation from Taittirlya 
Saiphita given on page 65, clearly states that the ordinary year (human) 
which consists of 360 days is equivalent to a 'divine day\ Hence, 
following the same analogy, one divine year is equal to 360 human (ordinary) 
years ; and although Manu does not explicitly state 12000 years as divine 
years, the next unit (Divine yuga) is sufficiently suggestive to mean that the 
term "years'* stands for divine years. The measure, "1 divine yuga=360x 
12000=4320000 years" is doubtless a unit of time well known in Manu's 
time ; and 1000 such years are said to be Brahma's day. This measure is equal 
to that of Kalpa described by astronomical works, although the word 
'Kalpa' is not mentioned by Manu. It is the author's conviction that the 
units of time, viz., "Krta and other yugas, Mahayugas, and Kalpa'*, which are 
described by astronomical works, were already established as standard unit . 
of time, not only in Manu's time, but in the time of Yaska, the author of 
Nirukta, because the ideas given in verses 72 and 73 of Manu Smrti are 
identical with those given by Nirukta in the last paragraph. He has dearly 
stated that a Brahma's day consists of 1000 years ; although he neither says 
that these years were divine nor does he mention one yuga to consist of 12000 
years, the names of yugas viz. Krta and others are found in the Vedas, so 
they belong to a period older than Nirukta. Also, the term "yuga" accord- 
ing to Nirukta, indicates a unit of time which was something very long ; hence 
it is believed that the standard units of time given by the Surya-Siddhanta 
and others, had been well established in the time of Nirukta ; and that it was 

•See translation of Surya Siddhanta, page 10, by Burgess. * 

Vbdanoa Period 105 

well set into standard form in Manu's time is doubtlessly true. The Mahtt- 
bharata mentions a yuga system similar to that given by Manu, and it will be 
described later on. European scholars believe that the Mahabharata was com- 
piled after Manusmrti ; even if it be supposed that is was compiled earlier, 
it would lend a support to the belief that the standard yuga system was estab- 
lished long before Manu's time. 

The signs of advent of different yugas are given by Manu in terms of pre- 
vailing religious conditions ; similar conditions are described bythePuranas 
also. The measure of the period known as 'Manu' is the same as given by 
the Surya-Siddhanta. 

Manu Smrti does not mention any names of planets or those of Rasis; 
it does not give anything else of astronomical importance. 


Names of Week Days 

This Smrti describes a sacrifice in honour of planets, whose names are 
given in the following lines. 

35: tftaYn^r. titvyh W^ uwh 

The names of seven days and their Lords are not explicitly mentioned, 
but the order of names of planets is given exactly in the order of week days ; 
this shows that the names of seven days of a week were known in the time of 
Yajnavalkya Smrti. The Atharva Jyotisa mentions seven planets in relation 
to seven days, but it does not mention Rahu and Ketu. ; but Yajnavalkya 
Smrti mentions nine planets and the incantations (mantras) to be chanted in 
their honour* which are found in vogue in the present time. Scholars believe 
that Yajnavalkya Smrti belongs to a very later period, later than Manu Smrti 
and the references of planets and names of week-days lends a support to this 

The Yuga-System 
This Smrti does not give the names of "Krtadi" yugas and their measures; 
but a solitary reference viz., 

shows that the system described by Manu Smrti was then in vogue. 

Twelve Parts of the Ecliptic 

The following lines give proper times for performing the 'Sraddha* 
ceremonies : — 

jfsir ?n5r«Rfqffr^"P^f ?t^t: hwii 

* See verses 299-301, Acaradhyaya. 

106 History of Indian Astronomy 

This work gives the word 'Surya Samkrama*. It is not, therefore, necessary 
to infer that the names of RaSis (Mesa etc.) were known then. The terms are 
nowhere found in Yajnavalkya Smrti and only at one place we get a reference 
of naksatra names {See 'Krttikadi Bharanyantam* 1.267). It has already- 
been pointed out that although the Rasi-terms were not in vogue in the Vedan- 
ga Jyotisa period, the ecliptic was supposed to be divided into 12 parts. It 
is also said that according to some European scholars the names of seven- 
days and 12 signs have been borrowed by the Hindus, and on the basis of this 
assumption one would argue that the Sanskrit work which gives names of week 
days must give names of Rasis also. But it Ijas been shown on page 100 
that Atharva Jyotisa does not give Rasis although it gives names of week 
days ; and it will be shown later on in the study of Mahabharata that the 
Indians, long before the introduction of the terms 'vara' and 'rasi\ had adopted 
the division of the ecliptic into 12 parts for the calculation of Sun's position 
and motion. The term 'Samkramana' could be used to denote the crossing 
of the sun into a part of the ecliptic, no matter if the ecliptic be regarded as 
divided into 12 parts or in 9 parts according to Atharva Jyotisa. The above 
lines show that the word 'Samkrama' has come in along with the 'Ayanas* 
(solstices) and 'Visuva' (equinoxes). It is thus proved that the ecliptic was 
divided into 12 parts in the times of Yajnavalkya Smrti. 

Anyway, the study of Atharva Jyotisa and Yajnavalkya Smrti proves 
that the names of week-days and 12 rasis did not come into use simultaneously; 
the 'varas* came into vogue before the Tasi-names. 


The word 'Vrddhi' occurs in the lines giving auspicious times 
for Sraddha quoted' on prepage ; it is doubtful if this is one of 27 yogas 
given by astronomical works. The author thinks that it stands for 
•increase' of "wealth, brahmanas, money" etc., occurring in the same lines. 

Other Matters of Interest 

The word 'Vyatlpata' also comes in the same sloka. It definitely stands for 
the astronomical 'yoga*. At another place (Prayascittadhyaya, verse 171) we 
come across a quotation "gfahasarnyogajaify phalaih". This shows that 
people were attracted by the phenomena of planetary conjunctions and that 
they had begun to discuss about their probable auspicious (benefic) and in- 
auspicious (malefic) effects. If the time of Yajnavalkya Smrti had been 
decided beyond doubt, it would have been possible to draw some more im- 
portant inferences ; still, the author records his opinion here that the Indians 
had the knowledge of Rahu, Ketu, the order of week days, Vyatlpata and the 
conjunctions of planets. 

wmiil i rcKii^i vjtft i^f«R: n srafifaiT^faaN^ amfacrr: u{«v»it 

We find references of Agastya and Saptarsi in these lines. Similarly, in 
the Garga Samhita and other works, they are said forming groups or clusters 
(Vithi) of nakgatras, e.g. Aja and Naga are the names of two vlthis occurring 

Vedanga Period 107 

in them, there are differences of opinion regarding the formation of naksatras. 
into groups and their number ; some take 9 as the number, others regard it as 
3. Bhatotpala has given in details the views of Garga, Parasara and others 
in the chapter on 'Sukracara' in Brhat Samhita. People in Yajnavalkya' & 
time, it seems, used to observe the movements of planets with respect to stars v 
since' the vithis referred to in the above lines are clusters of stars such that the 
planets were actually observed as moving on one side or the other of them. 

People thought that the abode of gods lay in the northern hemisphere 
of the heavens and the abode of pitrs (fore-fathers) lay in the southern hemi- 
sphere. This view is similar to the ideas given by Satapatha Brahmana (page 


We find in Yajnavalkya Smrti (Chapter 3, verses 192 to 197) some discussion 
about 'ayanas' similar to that found in the quotations from Nirukta.. 
We come across commands that certain religious rites should be performed 
when the Moon occupies certain benefic nak§atras (See 1-180 etc.) ; they 
believed that the ominous influence of malefic planets is overcome by worshipp- 
ing them (See 1-306); mourning was to be observed in the case of Rahu. The 
tithis and muhurtas also occur in the Smrti ; it also describes the reverential! 
status of astronomers (See 1-312, 332). 


The astronomical references found in the Mahabharata are so many in 
number that it is not possible to enumerate them for want of space. We will 
consider only those of them which are found very useful from point of view 
of the present subject matter. 

Its Time 

Before doing so, it is necessary to consider when the Mahabharata was 
compiled; because the importance of the astronomical references will be. 
the more firmly established. It is very difficult to establish without doubt its 
time ; however, it can be found by conjecture. Now looking to the text, 
because the sage Vyasa is said to have compiled it and VaiSampayana recited 
it to King Janmejaya, the work may appear to have been written at the time 
of Pandavas or soon after. It seems that the Mahabharata was in existence in 
the time of Panini. There is a direct reference of the Mahabharata m the 
Asvalayana Sutra and that it has already been proved from philological 
evidences that Asvalayana lived before Panini. This definitely shows that the 
Mahabharata* is a very ancient work. It may however be possible that a 
maior part of what is known as the Mahabharata to-day is of a later origin ; 
even from astronomical evidence it can be said that several portions may have 
belonged to different periods. But an information of an important research 
about the interpolated portion must be given here. 

The belief that the Mahabharata contains a lac (100000) of verses should 
not be said to belong to the present time only. Under orders of the Government 
of India, ancient inscriptions on copper plates and stones are being published 
in a series of books entitled "Inscriptionum Indicarum". The third part 
of the series contains inscriptions of Gupta Kings, which includes an inscrip- 
tion (belonging to Samvat 197) of King Sarvanatha of Uccakalpa (See page 

*It is Prof. Kunte's view that P&ninlknew the Mahabharata. See page 448, *'Vicissitu<j 
yan civilization". 

108 History of Indian Astronomy 

134 of the said book) which clearly states that the Mahabharata consists of 1 
lac verses, it is established beyond doubt that the samvat quoted in it is 
Cedi (Kalacurt) (See. Indian Antiquary, XIX 227 f ; XVII 215). Now 197 Cedi= 
O97+170)=367 §aka=445 A. D. This shows that nothing new was inter- 
polated in the Mahabharata after 4th century (Saka) ; and it is also true that at 
least some portion of it was written in Pandavas' time, whatever that time be. 
The 'Upakhyanas' subsidiary stories and lengthy descriptions of fights can 
possibly have been interpolated afterwards. But it is not very probable that 
the original story about Pandavas and important references about the position 
of certain planets near about particular naksatras at the time of the Mahabha- 
Tata battle have been interpolated by some one of his own accord later on. It 
cannot be said about astronomical references found in the Mahabharata that 
they have continued in their original form from Pandavas' time. The astrono- 
mical condition might have been handed down traditionally and these have 
been versified by some one later on. In short, what the author means to say is 
that the most important of the astronomical references must have been actual 
"facts traditionally handed down right from Pandavas' time and the remaining 
references, if not very old, at least belong to a period as ancient as Asvalayana 
andPanim. * 

The author has read the whole of the Mahabharata from point 
of view of astronomy, and an important thing which he noticed is 
that we do not get in it any reference of seven week-days and 12 rasis. 
It can, therefore, be said beyond doubt* that the astronomical references 
in it point to a period prior to the time (whatever that time be) when the week 
days and rasis got introduced in our country. According to European 
scholars, the Hindus have borrowed astronomical knowledge from the Greeks; 
if they have borrowed it at all, they have not done it from Ptolemy (150 A.D.), 
l)Ut long before him. This fact can be proved easily and the European scholars 
also admit it. None of them has proved beyond doubt, when the knowledge 
was gathered ; but they mean to hint that it was borrowed from Hipparchus, 
the famous Greek astronomer (150 B. C.) and hence, even the Europeans 
agree that the astronomical references found in the Mahabharata could not 
have entered it earlier than 150 B. C. 

To possess the knowledge of planetary motions and their causes and of 
finding their true positions is an important thing and so is inventing a system 
of names for week-days and those for Mesa and other Rasis ; but there is a 
vast difference between the importance of the two. 

*The author is giving below an interesting information about the Mahabharata 
Nirnayamrta, a famous work onDharmaSastra, quoting the following lines about Caturmasya 
and as taken from the Mahabharata : — 

But he did not find this verse in the Mahabharata. Similarly, certain passages about 
"ghatikapatra' and attributed to have quoted by the Mahabharata, are not found in it. The 
same work, Nirnayamrta, in the chapter on 'Mahalaya' in the second part of Nirnaya Sindhu 
quotes the following verse as taken from the Mahabharata, but he does not find it any- 
where in the work : — 

itT*^ ^rtTtg^sh «FTt?T^ folT^: II 5jN 5^*3^ 5TW^ ^frenr *ra?T i ra: II v 

He has written these lines after actually going through the book printed by Ganapat 
Krishnaji's press. A certain Vaman Sastri Islampurkar has published a news that he has 
found some original chapters of the Mahabharata which have not been printed and published. 

Vbdanga Period 109 

The first one is a very important thing ; it was not known to anyone in 
Europe before Hipparchus, the greek astronomer, and even the European 
scholars admit it; and if the Indians had required some help from the Greeks 
in this matter, it must have been very little. The second thing is not so 

Let us now turn to the study of astronomical references found in the 

The Yuga-System 

The Mahabharata describes Yuga and other units of time on the same 
lines as given by Manu Smfti. (See Bharata Vanaparva. Chap. 149, 188, 
Bhagavadgita, 8.17; Santiparva, Chap. 232, 233 eta). The names of Krta 
and other yugas have occurred at several places m reference to incidents attri- 
buted to be happening in those yugas. Similarly the term 'Kalpa denoting 
a unit of time has occurred at several places (See Santiparva, Chap. 183 etc.). 

The System of Vedanga Jyotisa 

We come across references about 5-year cycle or the system of 5-year 
yuga at some places. The five Pan4avas were born, one m each consecutive 
year.' A reference to this is found in the following verse :— 

Bhfsma, while calculating the time elapsed after the Pandavas went into 
exile, says to Duryodhana on the occasion of Uttara Gograhana as follows— 

sisftesuH't srefarfafa * ^f^ *fa: u*u 

Here we get the reference to the Vedanga Jyotisa system of inserting two 
intercalary months in five years. . 

Under the Vedanga Jyotisa system, the naksatra-cycle begins from Dhani- 
sthas which means that Dhanistha must be considered to be at the = origin 
while stating a planetary position. The Krttikas were once fgarded as the ifirst 
naksatra before Dhanisthas. An interesting story about the Dhanistnadi 
system is related in the Mahabharata as follows :— 

3Tf*rfacr s miTm g ttf^qT *«mt ^st u 

*f* tero f«rt *** *fPnT *m faa* iis.ii 
tfi&ft ^n*3?3^i asm sutto^ nt •w 

110 History of Indian Astronomv 

is no^cfear ^TttaZfir* k r < ! akllyina, • The »««•> «"» of the story 
AbMHt Man^ta R„h, ? „- v^" CU ? rent "ytWcal stories about the haA 
aSuSaSflnnS?' ^Vka«" J>mWed up in this chapter, and hence 
been Ttrfuced bv^ P Rr if - le ^.' I he Db «U5thS<u system is 4id to have 

I^^ffl"o^lSiT , S Ct8 ? at th S myth has ori ^ated because of 
gone up m the sky does not carry any satisfactory sense. 

Winter Solstice And Havana Star 

the WiwX^^H Jy °il ? - period the Winter Solsti <* used to take place at 
ment oTp Asa^h?Sl ha ; at P resent .^ Phco is nearabout tbe commence- 
nS have ^trefnrf hi Ti? earS f 80 rt USe 2 to ° ccur * ear U - Asadha. It 
^l^Sn?;^* 1 tak ? g Pk ^ near ^ rava * a in soine a « e - ' We come 
araccounf n? how r ? fere ^ abo Vt th ^ ^ the Mahabharata. While reading 

we ~c ro °ss verle Sf 3^^ 1 f em * ed to crea * • 'parallel-world* 
awu» ven>c sso. 34, Chap. 71 from Adi parva, which runs thus :— 

Similarly, the following lines are also worth reading :— 

■* *f art Tiftmhn: ^mnm epn: 11 wmffir ^«t^ *«* firffoiro irh 

place^SS^i^;?! 1 ^- in dea , r words that wi * ter s^tice used to take 

JVotSS wJ ? T^ 1 ^""ncnciiig from Havana. Like the Vedanga 

^h^^S m - aS Z tbo ? kvitna are 'Sukttdi', that is commencing with 

hat ^vSS^fvS.^ ^° 0nS * Fr ° m this {t can ' therefore > be inferred 
shght tff^XrS lu^? c « m i nued f °r f e w centuries more but in a 

winter olstice uSaJl^- "^ ¥* n shown before that the time when 
^ C it beli n tTfJ f™? ne . ar the **«fown*L of Dhanistha was about 1400 
J*, c. t it began to take place m the beginnin g of Sravana at about 450 B. C. 

pol^SHn diSr a ^ n0my haS *** in a map a list of stars which W iU become 

Vedanga Period 111 

Other Matters 

References about seasons, ayanas, Madhu and other months, and tithis 
are found at several places. The seasons commenced with 'Sisira*, so say 
the lines.' The words "Seasons commencing with spring" also occur at many 
places. If the year began with W. S., the commencing season must either be 
Sisira or Hemanta. The following lines support the view that "Caitra and 
Vaigakha constitute the Spring season" was the popularly known relation 
in those times. 

vfer* ntfa wri sre^ f^n*r$ it Fstaawpr .nn& iiv»h 

WR, 3T. ?«^. 
We meet with two lists of names of months in Chap. 106 and 109 of AAu- 
iasana Parva, in both of which the first month is stated to be Margajsirsa. Even 
when the verse concerning Sravana naksatra states new moon ending month- 
system, we come across a statement showing that full moon ending month- 
system was also in vogue, e.g. see verse No. 96. 

The following verses contain references about parts and sub-parts of a 
•day. The line from verse No. 21, Chapter 7 from Santi parva viz., 

quotes the time-units viz. Kala, Kastha, Muhurta and Lava. Similarly the 

*w«tp^ scsft tott^ q wro sr^ stqtt^ \\\v\\ 

5itf?f. am. 3T. 3$. 

from verse J 4, Chap. 36 of Santiparva gives 'Ksana' as another unit ; but 
their mutual relationship is nowhere to be found. The term 'muhurta' occurs 
at hundreds of places e.g. 

■quotes the Jaya muhurta. The Atharva Jyotisa gives Vijaya as the name 
of the 11th muhurta. The following verse contains the names of Abhijit, 
the 8th muhurta, and the term Tithi (but in masculine form). 

strferi, 3T. $33. 
The 8th muhurta, Abhijit, is famous in the Atharva Jyotisa and other astro- 
nomical works. The units, ghati and pala are not to be found anywhere in 
the Mahabharata ; but the author is not certain about this, since he did not 
read the work with particular attention to these units. 

I* 2 History of Indian Astronomy 


No reference is to be found about 7 days in a week in the Mahabharata but 
the author came across a solitary instance in which the word 'Vara* occurs 
in the verse No, 7, Chap. 160, Idiparva. The Pantfavas used to live with a 
certain Brahmin m theEka qakra Nagari, before Draupadi's 'Svayamvara* 
was held. In that city there lived a demon and it was agreed between him and 
the citizens that they should send one man every day for his meals. One 
day, it was the turn of that Brahmin to send a man to the demon. It is in this 
connection that the verse is Written. 

The word 'Vara' has been used to denote the turn (of a day). It has already 
been pointed out that the word 'Vasara' occurs in the Rigveda. It shows that 
the term Vasara' or 'Vara' used to be applied to a day to show a 'turn' 
before 4he names of seven days of a week came into vogue. * 


ca A j c 2f ip i ete , list of 2 J nak ? atras is found given at two places (see Chap. 
64 and 89, Anusasana Parya) but the list begins with Krttikas ; names of 
naksatras are found at several places. It is not necessary to quote all the con- 
cerning verses here ; but the author gives below only those few sentences which 
are worth noting. 

„~a V?a references about Mrgasiras comes at some places in stories about 
Par af chasmg the M ^ a (the star-deer) e.g. (See verse 20, Chap. 278, Vana 

The story of Rudra chasing the deer (Mrgasiras) is found in many Sanskrit 
works and in Sauptik Parva and also in Chap. 283 on 'Moksadbama', in 
Santi Parva. For this, read " ' 

In the following verses are to be found references about the Punarvasu stars 
in which the beauty of the twin stars on both sides of the moon is described. 

m^ft ntfXWI SwW «*fT*m<&: U T*mm5T WSW *SS** 5^r IR<ill 
A reference to star Hasta composed of 5 stars occurs in 

Vbdanga Period ' 11J 

The Visakha* is said to have two stars. 
A reference is found in the following lines. 

Other Stars 

A reference to dog star Sirius has already come along with Mrga. The 
names of stars other than 27 standard ones are also found in the Mahabharata 
e.g. in the following Hues one gets a reference to Agastya (Canopus) and Sap- 
tarsi with Arundhatl (Great Bear). 

^sftari. sr. \*\ . 

Yogas, Karanas and Names of 12 Rasis 

Nowhere in the Mahabharata is found a single reference s to 'Yoga,, 
Karana, or Rasi. Had Rasis been in vogue at any stage of the Mahabharata s 
compilation, they would certainly have come m the text. This definitely shows 
thS the terms Aries (Mesa), Tauras (Vrsabha) etc. were not current m the 
age when the Mahabharata was compiled. In the same way it was jot the 
system to mention a planet's position with reference to a part after dividing 
the ecliptic into 12 parts. Everywhere in the Mahabharata we find the 
position of the moon and other planets with reference to stars. 

Solar Months 

The sun's position in the ecliptic does not appear to have been given any- 
where in the Mahabharata, still it can be said that like Vedanga Jyotisa, he 
sdar months were known to the Mahabharata also; no only that, we also 
get references of 8 'samkrantis' in the following verse in which their importance 
as being very auspicious for charity are stated. 

^ fsnw SFTftf *W!Pi w< »^» *** ^ ^ *witflpjw'| <* \\ 
^sajrfa'W * stmswjaw www 

The terms 'two ayanas' occurring in it are known in astronomical works 
as Makara and Karka Samkrantis, and the 'Visuvas' are termed Mesa and 
Tula Sanikrantis. 

* <3 0mP hooks on astronomy describe Visakha as a cluster of 4 stars. Of these, the star 

*i J! Ta ito? T?hra are veVy luminous : but even these stars fade when the full moon 

^S£l in te?w?en^hem If howeve™?he moon happens to come in between these stars any 

SSSriSSflKthtiSd of light half or after the 10th tithi of dark half, the scene is very 

a scmating. (See P. 37, second edition, Jyotirvilasa.) 

1 14 * History of Indian Astronomy 

The term *§a4a§Iti* in the Surya-Siddhanta applies for the four signs, Ge- 
mini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, This term is used in the plural and there- 
fore, the author feels that it signifies the above mentioned four signs. This 
consideration leads one to infer that so far as stating the sun's position was 
-considered, the ecliptic was divided into 12 portions at the time of the Maha- 


Ordinary references of solar and lunar eclipses are found at many places. 
We find the description of fruitfulness of performing Sraddha ceremonies, at the 
times of eclipses (particularly at the time of solar eclipses) and of giving away 
of lands and other articles in charity* Similarly, we get references of occasions 
when eclipses took place. For instance, a solar eclipse occurred when the 
Pan4avas started for exile. 

TigTfrreT fc c^q jr u ifo ^f^ nun 

When the sage Vyasa met King Dhrtarastra (before the commencement 
-of the battle) with a view to giving him proper advice, hfe is said to have 
uttered the following words, 

^feff <?wff *ji^rt 3«taff n s*ri % m§m*$*mwm\ irotaff u 
~M*tfft*?it wwnKwra! writer? u^^n 

These lines and the previous context show that a lunar eclipse had 
taken place on the Kartika-full moon and a solar eclipse had fallen on the 
next new-moon day. The falling of two eclipses in the same month is a 
common experience : but those two are rarely seen at the same one place ; 
and that is why this is regarded as an omincms incident. This phenomenon 
is considered at lenghth by Bhatotpala (in §aka 888) in his commentary on 
Brhat Samhita {see Chapter on 'Rahucara'). 

Vihaghasra Paksa * 

The above lines contain a reference of a 'Paksa'* consisting of 13 days 
having occurred at the time of. the Bharata battle. The occurrence of a "half- 
month" consisting of 13 civil days is a rarity ; and hence it is regarded as an 
ominous incident. This is called a Ksaya Paksa or a missing half. If calcula- 
tions are done with the formulae given by the Surya Siddhanta and other astro- 
nomical works and if true positions of the sun and the moon are taken into 
account, we do sometimes get a 13-day half-month ; but we can never get it 
by either adopting the mean motions given by the Vedanga Jyotisa or even by 
the mean motions given by modern astronomy ; because the measure of 

♦The literal meaning of the word is 'wing' or 'side'. A lunar month is said to have sides 
or halves viz. the light half and the dark half. This word should not be translated as 
~a "fortnight", 


Vedang a Period 115 

a half-month according to Vedanga Jyotisa comes to be 14d. 45gh.29-i- p. 
and that according to S. S. and European astronomical works it corned to 
W. 45gh. 55-^g-p. The 13-day half-month is possible when its mean value 

for themnSnl^? i 4 ^ P? iS never P ossible tf mean values «» taken 
are ^ESS*** the sun and t he m <>on ; but it is possible if true positions 
Ji r S n f T For example, the dark half of Phalguna, Saka 1793 and the 

ocSsion^ Vjr n l%H ka - 18 ?° Were 13 " day Months. On both these 
SSt fi r Grabala ghava almanac and the Keropant's almanac (which 

whth wasli'T E W N J Utic ? Almanac > * ave a half-month a measure 
™f/ as less than If ^ys by a few ghatis. The occasions when the half- 

S nTvTlf W ° Ul f, be leS 1 S , than 14 dayS f e Very few and * is not necessa y 
sunoosl t W S? 1 ; ^ OUld l merge on a11 these occa «ons. For example, 
FtfS n f °. n the *? day of a month ( Mesa > or on the 1st date of an 
Enghsh Calendar month the new moon or full moon takes place at 4 ghatfs 

™LT^Vv SU ?f° Se that by "**onmS the true motion, the Sal 

wm^Lc^if ?w C n me t0 be V 3 dayS 55 8h - then the next l™»tfcn 
™h T?o5r? i- h f ful1 moon or the new * oon would take place) at the 
the 1st dav ft ^Mthd^.Naw, because first Parva-end^cuired on 
i»nh$A y i S ° ar or Clvi1 month ' after sunrise > that civil day would be 
tn t ? ? th 5 ? re U° US halfmoll th and hence, only 13 days would be left 

suJn™ S *2 '?? **? half - mont h. Taking the same example, if we 
32? ti 6 « the fi rst lunat occurred after 10 ghatis after sunrise on 

hence tL S luna t*on will OCC ur on the 15th day at 5 ghatis after sunrise ; 

^^J^tTu^ IT ° f i 4 dviI dayS and not I3 - lt is therefor ^ 
^ ^3 J 3 :u ay , ha]f '? onth 1S never P° ssibIe if mean motions 
inthfZv V nd A e fact that reference of such a half-month occurs 
mSl,? ead f ° ne t0 infer , that the Indians knew how to calculate 
il a I™ • ? f ?ll° etS even so earJ y as in the Mahabharata age; and this 
JeferenceT,°n f *??* * n °£. 1°™ ° ne is likely to raise * doubt that the 
recorded hv \r t~*% ^T^i* the Mahabba ' a ta is an actual phenomenon 
lunation tIZ ntl y ^^"gthenumber of civil days elapsed between one 
lunation to the other after seemg the moon's position in the sky every night 

Kb is sfnUv ^ ° f Ca " ati T bas f d o? ^an or true motions of planffs. 
JwS S3? y u ™P° sslblIlt y. A 13-day half-month is possible (as is shown 
S ffi when the ending moments of new or full moons are about a few 
and it kdonhtfni ? T- me - - J he ™°™ is ne ver visible on a new moon day, 
sunrife A ™? * * ■*, V1S I ble wh , en the endin S moment s occur near about 
™Siitv£ c ^ co ° slderat ion of the problem will convince one that the 
possibility of such a missing half-month is noticeable not by observation of 
moons position by actual mathematical calculation. It is difficult to expia°n 
the thmg more clearly and in shorter terms. F 

full J^n^t ^ fere f CeS S S 0W that * he lunar ecIi P se ha <* fa »en on the Kartikt 

whenT n It £ ? lar e fi ipse u 0n , - the next fol l°*hig new moon day. Now, 

™™?ii . ? y J!f' mo ? h 1S the hght haIf of a month > the beginning eclipse 

Sf V^A W* "£ mg ? ne a lunar aS can be , seen f ™ such a half-month 
v*z Vaisakha Sukla paksa of current year (i.e. ^aka 1817). But, if a 13-day 

!2L m9 5 '1 • be - take V^ a dark half of a month ' the falling of a lunar 
eclipse n the hegmning and that of a solar eclipse at the end is an impossibility. 
One will not find such an example m any of the past almanacs. Even if it be 
supposed that .such a i half-month did occur, maximum length of it would be 13 
days 30 ghatis ; but the max-length of actual 'any 13 consecutive civil days' 
TZ^Z' bC ^ than 13 dayS *° ghatis - AoocJding to modern accurlre 

2 L>CjO/59 

116 % History o* Indian Astronomy 

elements, it is not possible to get a 13-day half- month which has a lunar 
eclipse in the beginning and a solar eclipse at the end ; but we do get such a 
reference in the Mahabharata; and one cannot get the occurrence of this 
phenomenon by adopting mean motions of the luminaries. We are, therefore, 
led to believe that in the days of Tandlava's the Indians had,no doubt, acquired , 
the knowledge of calculating true places of planets, but their calculations 
were different from (i.e. less accurate than) what are done in the present times. 

The. Mahabharata relates the occurrence of a solar eclipse when Duryo- 
dhana was killed. 

A solar eclipse had already occurred one month before the commence- 
ment of the battle. Another solar eclipse could not have, therefore, fallen imme- 
diately after a month. This appears to be an exaggeration*. It is definitely 
stated at least in this verse that eclipse had fallen even when it was not a 

It is probable that occurrence of a 13-day half-month and that of a solar 
eclipse are exaggerations. Even then we can not say that the phenomenon 
of the occurrence of a 13-day half- month was not known to people in those 
times, and the above discussion does not come in the w^y of our inference. 


Now let us see what references we get about planets in the Mahabharata. 
One comes across the following lines in a passage describing the god 
Sun : — 

tfWt ^gwHr: srot wftttw *£w \\W\ i aft f«Rrcw N stansT: srfa: *Ht: 

In this we read of names of Mercury and other 4 planets. The following 
verse appears to state that the sun had five planets : 

% % *pnr n$rarim atatm: srgiftwu T\m *j$ riw w^t: ^Nr *fif *tct \\^\\ 

* * * * 

Similarly the verses 

snrro^r tt5W s ifiti x*x v%t %* ir^u tlm*- ar. 3« 
fasnfcft <m^4d fpf^^W ^T^t: I Ml «ff«M ST. ^v». 

refer to 7 planets 'afflicting' the moon. The number seven must, therefore, 
be including Rahu and Ketu which are not visible. This shows that our 
astronomers had developed a knowledge of Rahu and Ketu with reference to 
the moon's latitude or the eclipses and that they understood the theory under- 
lying these phenomena. 

♦The same line occurs at another place as "Rahunarko grasitah etc.". The incident 

of Duryodhana's death is given in a poetic and figurative way by the writer. He means to* 
say that it was not the death of King Duryodhana but the 'devouring* of the god Sun by 
Rahu, on a day (to-day) which is not a parva day. Eclipse is never possible on a non-lunation 
day. But the poet compares the event of Duryodhana's death with the occurrence of a solar 
eclipse even when the day was a non-parva day* 

R. V* Vaidya 

Vedanga Period 117 

Many people try to suggest that the current names of some planets which 
occur in Indian astronomy are not originally Indian but of foreign origin, 
but their names as given by the Mahabharata are strictly of Sanskrit in origin. 

. Retrograde Motion of Planets 
References about planets' retrograde motion occur at good many places ; 
«.£. see the following verses. 

«fa>*TH *?TTWTi [sfa^ft] PwiFft tf$rf^T IRII 

• ♦ * * 

Planetary Conjunctions 
We come across references of planets' mutual fights i.e. their conjunc- 
tions at many places; e.g. see the verses. 

straw.'*. \\. 

Positions of Planets at the Time of Bhdrata Battle 

The author gives below the positions of planets as described by the Maha- 
oharata. These refer to a period two months prior to the commencement of 
the battle or even the fighting period. When Lord Krsna, who had gone to 
Kauravas on or about Kartika £ukla 12 for mediation, returned from his mis- 
sion, on the 7th day before next new moon, he was met by Karna who says 
to him :— 

jnwnw f^ *sre tf^apaf^wfrT^fa: ii snraT: qtesfa <fte*JT snfof*rf*wi- u«h 
wm ^frrwft ** m*8Wi *&$& n sFrcref m*H ** wwfan iis.ii 

These verses describe Karna's views about indications of bad omens and loss 
of general life on a large scale. Similarly, sage Yyasa is describing in Chapter 
3 of Bhisma Parva, planetary positions which give indications of wholesale 
destruction of public life. See verses 12 to 18 and 27. 

ra?ft jfsttr ftcrt siffora fsrafai i^ii 3pto q*?gi«ita to <*reiwr fatzfa , , ^ , | 

spg: 5tosqre <£af turret? ftrctathitwi 
Ttf^iff <fte*?3*w?ft m 'wfinnwfl ii finnwrarai** fafrzs: gw a^: ntwi 
tnww* «f?«tt ! si «r*ni *re*?sr*r: n . atJ^rfsr tnn^ra **t%ri'ft arefraa: ntcii 


118 History of Indian Astronomy 

Knowledge About Planets 

It has already been shown on page 108 that the position of planets des- 
cribed by Vyasa in a dialogue between Kar$a and Krsna is a record of observed 
phenomena in Pandavas* time, the information having been handed down from 
generation to generation till it was incorporated in the Mahabharata. This 
shows that people in Pandavas' time, whatever that time be, were well acquaifi* 
ted with the planets and their movements and that the planetary positions used 
to be stated with reference to naksatras. 

Pandavas 9 Time 

Let us now take for consideration the problem of finding the time when 
Pandavas lived. 

We come across some lines in the Mahabharata which suggest that Pandavas 
lived in the 'transition* period between Dvapara and Kali, 

Similarly, Maruti says to Bhima, 
or Yudhisthira observes while in exile, 


q^Ti^ft ^wffir 5R^q% ?t?t ^?f net II ' 

or Sri Krsna says to Balarama after Duryodhana was killed, 

We also come across a description of time units given in Chap. 188 of Yana- 
parva, in which are foretold a number of things to happen in (future) Kali. 
All these references unanimously mean today that according to the Maha- 
bharata the Pandavas flourished in the period transiting between Dvapara 
and Kali. In the opinion of all astronomical works the Kaliyuga commenced 
3179 years before Saka era ; this shows that in the current year Saka 1817, 
the number of Kali years elapsed is equal to 3179+1817=4996. This means 
that about 5000 years have passed since Pandavas lived. All astronomical 
works unanimously agree to when Kaliyuga set in ; and all these works have 
been .written 2600 years after. But we do not find any reliable references in the 
several worjes compiled during the Vedic and Vedanga Jyotisa period, on the 
bas is of which we could fix up the time of Kali-beginning. European scholars 
however think that the moment of commencement of Kali has been arbitrarily 
decided by the astronomical works on the basis of certain planetary positions 
and this view is worth consideration and will be considered later on. If the 
time of starting Kali era be a correct one and if the Pandavas really flourished 
between Dvapara and Kali, they must have lived about 3200 years before 

Vedanga Period 119 

Famous astronomer Aryabhata (Saka 421) has stated in definite terms that 
the Bharata battle was fought in the ending period of Dvapara (See descrip- 
tion of Aryabhata, Part II) and it can be proved from his work that 3179 years 
of Kali had elapsed at the beginning of Saka era. 

Varahamihira (Saka 427) says, 

"The sages '{i.e. Saptarsi stars) occupied the Magha constellation when 
the King Yudhisthira ruled the earth ; the year of his reign can be obtained 
l)y adding 2526 years to the number of Saka years elapsed/' 

This shows that according to Varahamihira, Parujavas lived 2526 years 
before Saka era i.e: after 653 Kali-years had elapsed ; and he has described the 
movement of Saptarsi according to Vrddha Garga's opinion. 

The sage Vrddha Garga also appears to hold the same view. The history 
of Kashmir, by name Raja Tarangini, has been written by Kalhana, who lived 
700 years after Varahamihira. He has also given in the first chapter (Ullasa) 
the time of Pandavas as 653 Kali-elapsed. 

This time quoted by Garga and Varaha is simply an imaginary one . Varaha 
has stated in the chapter on Saptarsicara that these seven stars have motion 
.and they stay in each naksatra for 100 years, and the Pandavas' time has been 
calculated on this basis ; but it is a fact that the Great Bear is almost stationary 
and is still on the meridian passing through Maghas just as it did in Yudhist- 
liira's time. Hence if, the supposition that the 7-stars remain in eaclj naksatra 
for 100 years be regarded as true* then Yudhisthira will have to be taken ' as 
having lived 2700 years or 5400 years (or some other multiple of 2700 years) 
ago from now. But, the stars have no motion, and hence the time calculated 
on this assumption has no meaning and so also the time given by Garga and 
Varaha is meaningless. This sage Garga flourished a century or two after 
3§aka era started. He noticed the Great Bea* to be on a meridian passing near 
about the constellation of Magha and hence he must have decided that 2526 
years before Saka elasped after Yudhisthira lived. This big constellation 
occupies an extensive region of the sky and the stars could be said to be on a 
meridian passing through any of the constellations, Magha to Citra. The 
-same was their position in Garga- Varaha's time. (If some would tell the 
^author that the Saptarsis were formerly seen in the iune' occupying Maghas 
and if he thinks them to be in a *lune' occupying Turva', he would naturally be 
led to believe that the Saptar§is have got motion). Varahamihira lived only 
a few centuries (two or three hundred years) after Garga; hence he also belie- 
ved as true what Garga stated. In any case the time is imaginary. 

The Mahabharata states that Pandavas lived at the end of Dvaparayuga » 
and this view was considered as correct even up to Varaha's tijne. Aryabhata I 
who lived before Varaha (or was just his contemporary) accepts this view, 
but astronomers like Varaha and Garga do not ; this leads one to feel that the 
Mahabharata's statement is unreliable. 

Shri Visaji Raghunath Lele has published in a news-paper in Saka 180 
liis findings about Pandavas* time based on the planetary positions given in 
the Mahabharata. Let us examine the case. 


History op Indian Astronomy 

The summary of what Mr. Lele means to say is as follows :— • 

The dialogue between Karna and Vyasa shows some planets to be positioned 
on two naksatras each. Moon also is stated to be seen with two naksatras. 
The moon's position on the first day of fight is stated in the following verse. 

When Balarama returned from pilgrimage, it was the 18th day of the battle- 
He remarked 

This shows that the naksatra on the first day of the battle must have been 
either Rohini or Mrga. Thus according to the Mahabharata, the planetary 
positions were observed on two different naksatras as given below :— - 

Moon: situated in (i) Rohini or Mrga and (ii) Magha 

Mars: ^ (i) Magha and (ii) Anuradha or Jyestfia 

* Jupiter. : situated near*(i) Visakha and in (ii) Sravana 

This shows that one naksatra seems to be 'divisional and Sayana' and another 
one a 'stellar and nirayana.' These two naksatras, in each case differ by 
7 or 8 naksatras. Calculating the possible age when so much difference in 
Sayana and Nirayana naksatras could have happened, we get 5306th year 
before Saka era (or 2127th year before Kali era). The battle appears to have 
been fought in the Sayafta month of Margaslrsa of that year. The planetary 
position described in the dialogue of Karna and Vyasa refers to the period of 
22 days before this. The author calculated planets' places on the Kartika 
new moon day by Keropant's planetary tables. This book has accepted the 
Surya Siddhanta's measure for a year. The moment of equinox according 
to this measure comes to be 12 glx 27 p after mean sunrise on Saturday, the- 
eleventh tithi of Caitra Sukla paksa of that year. The tropical true longitude 
of the sun comes to be 8 8 25° 1' which shows that the Caitra is actually the 
Sayana-Pausa ; and the ayanamsa for that year was 3' 4° 59'. Adding this to 
Sayana longitude of the planet we get its Nirayana place. The new moon 
of Nirayana Magha is found to occur 313 days after the vernal equinox in 
that year. The Sayana positions of planets, at 12 Bh 27 p after mean sunrise- 
at Bombay, come to be as given below :-^- 
Planet. Trop. long. Sayana Naksatra. Nirayana Naksatra.. 


























P. Bhadrapada 


















U. Bhadrapada 







The moon's approx. 


long. ( on next full 

moon day ) 




P. PhalgunI 

Vedanga Period 121 

Mars is said to be in Magha ; by calculation it appears to be Sayana MaghS. 
Jupiter and Saturn are stated to be near about VisSkha ; and calculation shows 
Jupiter to be in Sayana Svati and Saturn in Sayana Citra. The nirayana 
system was not at all in vogue in Pan^avas' time. The position of a planet 
used to be given as "situated in such and such sayana division and near such 
and such star" ; and according to this system Mars was given to be neat the 
fixed star Jyestha (Alpha Antares). The fixed stars were and even now are 
situated somewhere near about the nirayana divisional naksatra of that name. 
According to that system,the star Jyestha was situated in the nirayana Anuradha" 
division and Mars conjoined with the star. The statement "arigarakajt 
jyesthdydm vakram kftvd" of the verse should not be interpreted as the retro- 
grade motion of Mars, but its motion "away from" the star Jyestha as far as 
the latitude was concerned. Jupiter has been said to be near Sravana, so we 
find it near Sravana star by calculation. The moon has been given to be near 
Rohini and so we find her position by calculation. Its position near Magha 
is confirmed by calculation which shows her to have been near Magha-star 
in the nirayana Purva-PhalgunI division. Venus proves to be near P. BhS- 
drapada as told by the Mahabharata. The words "Rdhuh arkaip upaiti" 
meaning "Rami comes near the Sun" is found to be true by calculation. In 
short, the planetary positions described by the Mahabharata appear to be 
given in terms of Sayana divisional naksatras and actual stars, and the year of 
battle comes to be 5306th year before Saka era. This is the gist of what Mr. 
Lele has published. The following are some serious objections against his 
statement :— • 

(1) Mr. Lele states that the planetary positions given by the Mahabharata 
are Sayana ; but they are not so. The zodiac in the present time is taken to 
commence from AsvinI; following the same principle, Mr. Lele has converted 
the positions of all planets with regard to the equinox, taking first naksatra 
from this as AsvinI. But whence does he get the rule of regarding first nak- 
satra from equinox as AsvinI? Sayana-Asvini-naksatra is not a visible star. 
It is quite obvious that originally the divisional naksatras began to be known 
by the names of some visible stars ; and hence, the sayana naksatra in which 
the equinox used to take place in the time of Pan4avas must have got the 
name of that star which was actually situated in the division. But Mr. Lele 
says that the naksatras in the time of the Mahabharata were sayana and com- 
menced from AsvinI. These arguments would lead one to infer that the sys- 
tem of reckoning sayana AsvinI as the first naksatra must have come into 
vogue at a time when the equinox used to occur near about AsvinI star. By 
calculation we find that the equinox used to take place near a star of Arietis 
group in between Saka 500 to 800 but the Pandavas lived long before this 
period. Hence, according to Mr. Lele's view, the Sayana- Asvinyadi system 
was in vogue about 26000 (or an integral multiple of 26000) years before Saka 
era. But we do not come across names of naksatras as begun from AsvinI; 
we get references of the naksatra cycle beginning from Kittikas or from Dha- 
nistha or even from Sravana. Not only this, but in the Vedas we do not get a 
single reference of 'Asvinyadi' system, even in the Vedanga-Jyotisa we do not 
read of Asvinyadi' system, but of Dhanisthadi ; and the list of controlling dei- 
ties begins with Krttikas. In the Rigveda we no doubt get a solitary reference 
of AsvinI being the first naksatra, but it has been shown on page 72 that the 

♦The Nirayana divisional naksatras, shown in the above table are not given by Mr. 
Lele ; it is the author who has noted them for a clear understanding of what ho wanted 
to say by stating that such and such planet was near a particular star. 

122 History of Indian Astronomy 

reason is quite a different one, AsvinI was never the first naksatra before 500 
years before Saka (i.e. before about 2300 years from now). The current astro- 
nomical works do treat of the Asvinyadi system, and those of the works which 
describe them are not older than 2300 years. This will be proved later on 
In no works belonging to the Vedic or the Vedanga Jyoti§a period, do we find 
either any ieference of Me§a and other RaSis nor of ^svinyadi naksatras'. 
(2) If any one says that the sayana system of planetary reckoning com- 
menced when the equinox was in Krttikas and that the time when Pandavas 
i? w C( L-i- { OUnd> by su PP° sin S tha t the astronomical references given by 
the Mahabharata are sayana and the sayana-divisional Krttika naksatra com- 
menced from the equinoctial point, then his suggestion can be accepted The 
dual position of planets given by the Mahabharata refers to two naksatras 
which are separated by seven or eight naksatras. Hence, adopting the Asvin- 
yadi system we get position of equinox in Punarvasu in Pandavas' time ■ and 
such was the equinoctial position in the 5306th year before Saka era If 
.? e .??-!r the a SSUmpti o n that in the time of Pandavas the system'was 
Krttikadi, even then the references of planetary positions can be shown to 
5h««? rwS ?Lt G W ' av f t im %would prove to be 2000 years earlier i.e. 
about 7300 years before Saka The equinox occurred in Krttikas about 
2400 yeats before Saka. The Pandavas lived before this date. Hence Mr 

%L W «J ??w Say ^nn" The WOkaUWem of naksatra reckoning started 
26000 years before '2400 years before Saka' i.e. about 28000 years before 
Saka } and therefore, also that it continued for 21000 years up to Pandavas' 


™ ^ U o« a S eptanC f ° f the u st f em £it that the sayana system of calculation began 
26 or 28 thousand years before Saka era involves the responsibility of proving 
that our astronomers were well-versed in the knowledge of huge astronomical 
ngures mvoved in necessary calculations for almanac-making. Only the 
almanac makers can understand the implications of such assumptions and 

nSTtl £ i 8 H eed r t0 \ Mr ' Lel ? ovserves that our Peoplepossessed 
up-to-date knowledge of astronomy since 26000 years before Saka or even 

before that date, they could record correct observations and that the works 

tTm P H n /or ??nnn ag6S a il n ? w , lost *' How C ^W the system which con- 
tinued for 25000 years suddenly lapse ? How could all the works written 
m this period be lost and the whole knowledge of astronomy be forgotten 1 
ine history of hundreds of books on astronomy written during the last 2000 

S^vt nlTwT 6 A° m T - t0 the ° ther correctl y- < This wi W b e shown in 
the next part.) Under such circumstances, how is it that not a single work of 

the old period is available and no trace of the previous mathematics obtain- 

con^in BOOk V Wntte ? iL 00 yearS bef0re ^ aka are available but none of El 
contain any trace of the accurate astronomical calculations. Mr Lele will 

thT™ pEf Et -^ Y H* "{ the Ved56ga Jyoti§a literature belongedTo 
Hi f^ * daV T Pen ? d - ? 1S> therefore » impossible to solve the puzzle how 
t^e astronomical works and astronomical knowledge possessed by the people 

^^"v^ 6 S en0d Were lost when the works written in the Pandava 
and the Vedic periods are still available. ' 

* Mr * £?* h ™}? kGQ the AsvinI as the first naksatra ; it is not so mentioned 
in any of the Vedio works; and it is most improbable that people of thai 
time completely understood the delicate implications of the conception of 
sayana and mrayana systems to be followed in astron omical calculations. 

v w T r e ) deas expressed by the author in the above 2 or 3 paragraphs are the views exnres**! 
by Mr. Lele to him privately in a letter dated 21st May, 1 895. expressed 

Vbdanga Period 123 

This stand could be proved as unjustified from many evidences The 

SSST'tiSS? 1 f?5 by 5* Mahabharata are, therefLfnot lyana Ind 
hence, the time calculated on the basis of that assumption is also not correct 

*hJ n tU^t tlOI l t0 the ^° major ob J ect tons raised against the assumption viz 
that the planetary positions described by the Mahabharata are sSvTna some 
more minor objections could be brought against it :— . . Y 

Icha- Mr YS 5b y ra ^ a , states 1 ha V upiter and Saturn ™» seen near "Visa- 
kha Mr Lele after interpreting Visakha as a "sayana-divisional nak Jtr?' 

^ t°t Wn h I ca culati ™ that ^Piter had oc«iipicd^^S^S^Sii 
and Saturn the sayana Citra division and on thai Account they codW be^Sdto 
be^near ViSakha Now, sayana Visakha is not a star buSSn where 
$£l?S th f need of sa y in « that "J«Piter and Saturn were found to be near 
™ u h u ' 1 hen they were actively in the Svati and Citra divis&ns > Thev 
could have been stated to be in these starry divisions in clearTords ' * 

^ W The planetary position when Kama was killed is given in verse No. 

mi? 8 ???*? bas - been f ated t°;be stationary near Rohinl which does not 
mov3. (i.e. Rohim is not regarded as sayana). 

(5) Saturn is stated to be 'afflicting' Rohinl and also the Bhaga (i e Phal- 
gum) naksatra Mr. Lele has not considered these statements. This reference 
can be interpreted as one planet while conjoining with one naksatra 'afflicts' 
another, and Suryaputra' can for the sake of satisfaction, be interpreted 
not as Saturn, but as one of the comets in the solar system. 

(6) Mr. Lele has not been able satisfactorily to explain how Mars (Pavaka- 
prabha-lohitanga stated in the verse Vakranuvakram) was 'retrograde and 
then direct He is required to interprete it, not as Mars but as some comet. 
In short, the position of some planets stated to be on more than two naksatras* 
d?Ws?oM SatlsfaCtGnIy ex P lained b y regarding the naksatras as sayana 

(7) The naksatras, referred to in the verse "Maghdsvangarako vakrah 
Sravaveca Brhaspatih" must both be of the same one system ; but Mr Lele 
regards Magha as sayana and Sravana as nirayana. It is also interesting to 
note that Magha has been used in plural. How can a sayana division be 
expressed in plural form ? 

(8) The planetary positions in the early morning of the day on which 
Salya was killed are described in the line 

This verse states that Venus, Mars and Mercury were together on that day. 
Mr. Lele s calculations do not explain and support the statement 

T ( ?2-^ ar tL S Stated to be ' offerin g prayers' to Anuradha after 'turning round 
Jyestha . The retrograde motion of Mars is clearly shown here. As the 
calculations did not prove the motion of Mars as retrograde, Mr Lele was 
Teqmred to interprete the word 'vakra* as otherwise. 

i Q + °) Acc epting Mr. Lele's ayanamsas as true, if we convert the tropical 
longitudes of planets into nirayana naksatras, we get the moon's position to 
*>e inp. Phalgum and not 'near Magha' as stated in the Mahabharata •■ Mars 

124 History of Indian Astronomy 

is found to be in nirayana Anuradha ; and Mr. Lele regards it to be 'near 
Jyestha' as stated by the Mahabharata. He also states that in the Mahabharata 
age the planetary positions were not given in terms of nirayana naksatra^ 
but near some stars. Let us, therefore, find out the stars near which the planets 
in the year 5306 before Saka, actually were. If accepting the annual preces- 
sional motion to be 50* the tropical longitudes of stars for the abovementioned- 
year be calculated we get the longitude of the junction star of P. Bhadrapadas 
as 8 s 13° 5'. Venus was 22° to its west i.e. even west of star Satabhisak. Would 
it look well if we say that it was near P. Bhadrapada ? 

The longitude of Jyestha was 4 s 29° 22' and Mars was 23° to its west 
that is near the star Visakha ; how can it be said to be near Jeystha ? Even- 
taking for granted that the actual precessional motion was somewhat different 
from 50", and that the stars also have got some motion and that the planetary 
positions were not given in terms of celestial longitudes but in right ascensions,, 
it will still be found that the actual positions of these two planets do not tally 
with those given by the Mahabharata. 

It is possible to find some other time which is a bit later or earlier than 
that suggested by Mr. Lele and then one will not be able to raise the last 
2 or 3 objections against it ; still other objections do stand. On the whole 
it can be said that the planetary positions described by the Mahabharata 
are not given with reference to a dual (sayana and nirayana) system, and that 
the time suggested by Mr. Lele is not correct*. 

Late Shri Venkatesha Bapuji Ketkar interpreted the verse about Saptarsis 
that the Yudhisthira era was in vogue for 2526 years before Vikrama Saka 
and hence, he considered that the Pandavas lived 2526+135=2661 years before 
Salivahana Saka. On this supposition he maintained that the Mahabharata 
battle was fought in the months of Margasirsa and Pausa of the 2662nd year 
before Saka i.e. in the year 2585 B.C. from Nov. 8 to Nov. 25 of that year. 
Taking 1 B 13° 57' as the ayanamSa he calculated nirayana positions of planets 
true for the morning of Thursday, Kartika new moon 'day, with the help of 
Keropant's planetary tables, which are given below :— • 










s o 






7 10 









6 7 









8 19 



Moon has been calculated for Friday, the MargaSlrsa full moon day. 
It is found to occupy the Mrga naksatra, the longitude being I s 27° 30'. 

He says that the position of Venus as described by the Mahabharata in 
the line "iveto grahah prajvalito jyesthcmakramya tisfhati" is seen to be true 
by his calculated result. After showing by calculation that there were eclipses 
in the beginning and at the end of Margasirsa, Mr. Ketkar says that Jayadratha 
was killed at the time of the second eclipse. This event and the planetary 
positions do not tally with those given in the Mahabharata**. 

♦This should not be taken to mean that the sayana-system is not acceptable to the author. 
He wants only to say that the planetary positions given by the Mahabharata are not sayana. 
That the sayana system of position-reckoning was acceptable to the Vedas will be shown in 
detail later on. 

**For objections against Mr. Ketkar's calculations readers are requested to see the May 
and June 1884 issues of 'Indu PrakSa* and 'Poone Vaibhava* papers. 

Vedanga Period 125 

Pandavas' time has not been found beyond doubt as yet on the basis of | 
planetary positions given by the Mahabharata ; but this does not mean that 
these positions were incorrect. The author believes that the references found 
in the dialogue between Kara a and Vyasa indicate factual position of the 
planets and that they have been incorporated in the Mahabharata on the basis, 
of the information handed down direct from Pandavas' time. It can at most 
be said that we are unable to establish the agreement. He has seen how one 
gentleman, Janardan Hari Athalye, has attempted to disprove Mr. Lele's 
theory and to establish the agreement with the help of nirayana system of 
astrology. He does not think that Lele has succeeded in his attempt even to 
some extent. He does not know who will be able to explain the validity of the 
references of planetary positions. 

The names of months, Caitra etc., were in vogue in Pandavas' time and 
they could not have belonged to a period earlier than 4000 B.S. (i.e. before 
Saka*) ; (this will be proved later on). This shows that Pandavas' time can 
not be taken to be earlier than 4000 B.S. 

By the by, the author notes down the Pandavas' time as can be established 
from historical references found in the Vi§nu Purana and the Srimadbha- 
gavata :—> - 

II V9 || 

These verses describe in a 'future form' the number of years of reign by- 
kings of different dynasties, e.g. 1015 years elapsed between the king Partk- 
sit (grand son of Yudhisthira) and the crowning of Nanda. After him 9 Nandas. 
ruled for 100 years, and after them the Emperor Candragupta Maurya (the 
disciple of Canakya) came to throne. The same story is related in chapters. 
1 and 2 of 12th section of the BMgavata, with the difference that the word 
'Satam' is found substituted for 'Jneyam' which means that from Pariksit 
to Nanda as many as 1115 years passed. When Alexander the Great came 
to India, Candragupta had gone to see him. He (Candragupta) came to* 
throne at Patna in the year 316 B.C. At the time of Seleucus who was a very 
strong general of Alexander, Candragupta was known to be a very great king. 
His grandson was Asoka and these were well known facts of history beyond 

If the description given by the Visnupurana and the Bhagavata about the 
years of reign (viz. 1015 or 1115 years) of kings from Pariksit to Nanda be 
correct, we will have to take for Pandavas' time a year near about 1431 or 
1531 B.C. and almost all European scholars accept this time as correct. 

♦The Saka era differs from Christian era by only 78 years. The time established by as- 
tronomy as being some year before Saka era is likely to err by 78 years on account of so 
many reasons. Hence a date given by the author as B.S. may, for practical purposes, be: 
taken even as so many years B.C . 

* 26 History of Indian Astronomy 

•jAniVe 6 au j hor ' s option, the Pandavas must have lived between 1500 to 
3000 B.S. and not earlier than this. 

Knowledge of Planetary Motions 

When the Mahabharata was compiled people were possessing reasonable 
amount of knowledge of planets' motion. The following verse is worth read- 

.«pf .tfrorci^t * vmvh * m m n v* n toot <-m s*^n fkzxm 

«f » In H«r iS ^rt^ re ^ rences of lapse of a year, a month, a half-month and 
^L\i?' Th + ? term ^ of a day' occurs in Vedanga Jyotisa. The lapse 
t f ti fiT n? occurs m the Mahabharata at a second place, discussed about 
™ J& 1 1 ' In r addltl °n to these two, we get a reference of a lapse of a 

^ftl ?l IapSe 0f a yea 5- A lapse of one y ear occurs a ^r every 85 years. 
{bee the Udaya-system and mean-Rasi-system under 'examination of the topic 

?L^ Va * Sa [ a m - Par 5 P ; but - this P resu PPoses the system Of describing 
Jupiter s_ motion m relation to signs. The Mahabharata does not contain 

?9 tfJ# a f " t i:mS / r the ,?y s J em of indicating planets' place with reference to a 

12-part system of an ecliptic. From this it appears that the system of fixing 

IST* ?i? y e / r u ! r v Ojn liter's place found by mean-rasi motion was not in" 

2£ the^Mahabharata's time. The 12-year cycle system is more ancient 

than this. It depends upon the heliacal rise and set of Jupiter. By following 

Hi nSr £*L - \ S , am . vatsara occurs o fte n. This might have been in vogue in 

t^n habharata S ^t ■ If {t be su PP° sed that the mean-rasi system was 

w + * VOgUe We - WlU have t0 acce P t th at people had accurate knowledge of 

i^Z^^T^ T t he <la P sed month ' which occurs in our time can not be 

accurately found without knowing exact true positions of the sun and the moon. 

ine system of naming months after naksatras has been described in Part Two 

fhJ ^ g l ? lX the . lapse of a month does take Place ; this shows that 
^S^T ^^nown^n the Mahabharata period. From the discussion on 
lapse ol a half-month made before, it will be seen that they did not have 
accurate knowledge of true motions of the sun and the moon ; but if the rule 
«!«? a & a ifu nth ' a ^If-month and a day missing be the same as at present, 
then we shall have to believe that people in the Mahabharata time had com- 
plete accurate knowledge of the true motions of and of corrections to be ap- 
plied to the sun and the moon as at present. 

Miracles of Nature 

In the Mahabharata we find at many places descriptions about comets and 
meteors. The following description of the sun as causing rain is worth not- 

At some places we find the moon associated with the tides of ocean : we get 
allusions to show their conviction that the earth is round. The following 

Vedanga Period 127 

verse will show that people had observed that the other side of the moon is 
never visible : — 

TO f&m: ms* i«3 5rs*m> ton* ^stf «njsf: 

These references show that we find among the people a curiosity of finding 
causes of natural phenomena after observing the miracles on the earth and 
in the sky. 

The Samhita Section 

In the Mahabharata we come across many references about suggestions 
to do or not to do certain things as per Muhurta section of Samhita branch of 
astronomy . It has already been shown above that the planetary positions 
have been given in the Mahabharata with a view to describing the probable 
effects of such positions. 

■rfiirT: 1 1 w 1 1 fasm ?m# OreT* fcrf xw* vtiism* 1 1 

STifdMM, ST. $00. 
This has been addressed to Dharma by Bhlsma. The starting for expedition 
on Pusya naksatra has been described at many places as being very auspicious. 
At one place we find mention of a 'Bhaga' naksatra as auspicious for marriage! 
In the Vedas alone we find 'Bhaga' as the deity controlling Uttara Phalguni • 
otherwise we find her as controlling Purva Phalguni. But P. Phalguni has 
not been included in the list of naksatras devoted to celebration of marriages. 
The following line refers to Draupadi's marriage with Dharmaraja. 

Because Pusya is not regarded as a marriage-naksatra, Caturdhara, the com- 
mentator, defends the acceptance of this naksatra saying "By the word 'Pausya* 
is to be understood that naksatra which causes nourishment and not the Pusya 
naksatra". The author does not agree with the explanation. The next 
description will show that Draupadi was married to five Pandavas on five con- 
secutive days ; but in our present day list of marriage-naksatras v, . do not 
find any five naksatras which are consecutive in order. 

Matters of astronomical interest occurring in the Mahabharata have been 
so far discussed, some of which are of much impoitance. Even though the 

l? 1 ! 8 ui.- *' V??a ' etc - and the names of week-days are not found in the 
Mahabharata, it need not be suspected that these have been borrowed from the 
Greeks The author reiterates them as follows :— (1) People had knowledge 
about planets at the time of Pandavas, whatever that time may be. No one 
thinks it was later than 1500 B.S. In any case, it was the time before names 
ol 7 days and names of signs came into use, that is, before our astronomy 
came in contact with the Greek system. (2) The ecliptic was divided into 12 parts 
with respect to the sun's position- (3) The reference of a 13-day half-month 
shows that people had a working knowledge of finding the true positions of 

128 History of Indian Astronomy 

the sun and the moon. (4) If the method of reckoning a missing day, half- 
month, month and a year was similar to that in the present time, it must be 
-accepted that people in those times had accurate knowledge of the sun's and 
the moon's true positions and motions and that of mean motions of Jupiter 
and other planets. (5) People used to observe and think over not only the 
miracles of the sky, but* some planetary phenomena like the rise and set, 
(both diurnal and heliacal) of planets and their eight-fold motions like direct, 
retrograde etc. 

One can not make definite statements about the above matters from refere- 
nces in the Puranas just as have been made from those in the Mahabharata 
because one can not say with certainty anything about their time ; and to 
read through all Puranas is a matter of time and hence, the author does not 
make any observations about them. He has not considered anything about 
♦even theRamayana since it does not contain terms like Mesa etc. It is, how- 
ever, clear that some of its portions must be belonging to period later than the 
Vedic or Vedanga Jyotisa age and some of it must; have been written earlier 
than the Mahabharata's compilation ; but it is very difficult to make a definite 
.-selection of the two portions, 


The Time of Satapatha Brahmana 

This part will be summarised after stating some important facts and in- 
ferences worth mentioning at this place. 

Following lines are found in Satapatha Brf hmana : — 

*'Krttikas alone consist of many stars, other asterisms (consisting of) 
one, two, three, or only four stars. (He who performs the agnyadhana cere- 
mony on this naksatra) gets plentifulness (or abundance) of this star ; that is 
why "fire should be lit" on Krttikas. These are the only stars which do not 
'deviate* from the east while all others do. He who does the ceremony on this 
nak§atra gets two of his 'agnis' i.e. fires firmly established in the east, and that 
is why fire should first be lit on Krttikas/' 

The statement "Krttikas never deviate from the east" implies that these 
stars always rise in the east, that is, they are situated on the Equator or that 
their declination is zero. At present they do not appear to rise exactly in the 

-east but at a point north of east ; this happens because of precessional motion 
of the equinox. Assuming 50" as annual motion, the time when the junction 
star of the Krttikas had zero declination, comes to be 3068 years before 

:J§aka and even 150 years earlier, i.e. the approximate time of commencement 
of Kali era, if 48 ff be adopted as the precessional annual motions Calculating 
the declination of some other stars in this age, we find that the northernmost 

*tar of Rohi^I group, the southern three of Hasta group, two from Anuradha, 

one from Jyestha and one from A§vini were situated near the Equator ; only 
some one star from Hasta group (if at all) could possibly have been situated * 

exactly on the Equator, otherwise none. 

Vedanga Period 129 

The statement about Krttika's rising in the east is made in the present tense 

and they can not always do so because of precessional motion of equinoxes. 

In our time we find them rising to the north of east and they used to rise to its 

south in 3100 B : S. From this it can be inferred that the concerning portion 

in Satapatha Brahmana was written about 3100 years before Saka era. 

The Time ofKrttikadi system 
The list of naksatras mentioned in the Vedas begins with Krttikas. The 
equinox used to occur in the 4th quarter of Bharani division in the Vedanga- 
Jyotisa age. It must have been in Krttikas before that time ; and assuming 
that the naksatra-list commenced from Krttikas, Bentley and other European 
scholars have found 15th century B.C. as the time when the equinox used to 
take place in Krttikas ; but this is erroneous. The mistake which was commit- 
ted in the case of Vedanga Jyotisa has been committed in this case also. The 
tropical longitude of Krttikas must have been zero in the age when equinox 
used to coincide with this asterism. Its sayana longitude in 1850 A.D. was 
57° 54'. Hence, the time of equinox being in Krttikas comes to be (57° 54' 
X72) i.e. 4170 yrs— 1850= 2320 B.C. The scholar Bayo has found out the time 
of Krttikadi system as prevailing amongst the Chinese to be about 2357 B.C.* 
and he must have found the time by adopting the same system of calculation 
as followed by the author. He has not read Bayo's original articles ; but it is 
surprising to see that Bayo has not followed the system in the case of Hindus 
which he has done in the case of the Chinese-naksatra system. 

According to Weber, the time of Krttika being first naksatra comes to be 
somewhere between 2780 to 1820 B.C. Dr. Thibbaut has a fairly good know- 
ledge of Indian astronomy. His opinion about this point has recently been 
published. The gist of his arguments is as follows ;— There is no support to 
show that Krttikas were regarded as the first naksatra because equinox used 
to occur in that naksatra. We do not come across any description in the 
Vedic literature about planetary positions signifying a time prior to the one 
given by the solstitial positions described by Vedanga Jyotisa. The statement 
of winter solstice occurring in the beginning of Dhanistha naksatra is very 
ambiguous ; because the stars in the naksatra division** occupied by the sun 
is never visible ; it can not be said with certainty at which point of the 
ecliptic the sun must have been for the occurrence of the winter solstice given by 
Vedanga Jyotisa. Hence, the time calculated by the above method is liable 
to be mistaken even by 1000 years. 

The Europeans have not even now understood the quotation from Sata- 
patha Brahmana given above. The Pleiades are seen above the horizon for 
about 10 or 11 months during the year ; and when they used to rise exactly 
in the east, this eastern rise could be seen from any place on the earth then; 
and there is nothing to be doubted about this. If there would have been an 
«rror of 1 degree in ascertaining the exact astronomical east, that in the cal- 
culated time would not be more than 200 years. In short, the reason why 
Krttikas used to be reckoned as the 1st naksatra was their rising in the exact 
East. The time for this event was about 3000 B.S. without doubt. 

The Vedic Age 

The Taittiriya Samhita which is more ancient than S~atapatha Brahmana 
also mentions Krttikas as the firs t naksatra. Hence, this part of the Samhita 

*See translation of S.S. by Burgess. ~~~ '. 

**See the 1895, April issue of Indian Antiquary XXIV. 

130 History of Indian Astronomy 

must have been compiled either in 3000 B.S. or a century or two before. The 
statement about Krttikas being first is unequivocally given in Satapatha Bra- 
hmana and hence its time is definitely 3000 B.S. or a century or two later. 
It can be said without doubt that all those sections of the Vedas which quote 
Krttikas as the first naksatra must have been compiled a century or twe earlier 
or later than 3000 B.S. The Rigveda Samhita does not mention the Krttikadi 
naksatra system ; hence, it must belong to a time earlier than 3000 B.S. 

Who was the Originator of the Naksatra System ? 

Some Europeans maintain that the Vedic naksatra system dees net belong 
to the Indians originally. The author thinks there is no country in the world 
the people of which (however savage they might be) never observed any asso- 
ciation of the moon with the stars or have not given any names to them. 

If no other evidence can be given to show that the Vedic naksatra system 
belongs to Indians, at least some of the Vedic stories, like the Moon's love to 
Rohini, can be taken as sufficient evidences. The time when, according to 
some Europeans, the Hindus appear to have borrowed this system from the 
Chinese, the Babylonians or other unknown countries, could not have been 
earlier than 2780 B.C. ; but it has already been shown above that naksatras 
were known to Hindus earlier than 30C0 B.C. and that these are mentioned 
in the Vedic literature even before this time. From this it will appear that 
the argument, that naksatras have been borrowed by Hindus from foreigners, 
does not stand. If Chinese have established their system independently, 
then the Hindus also have done the same independently and any impartial 
thinker will agree with this. 

Caitra and Other Names 

It has been observed that names of months, Caitra and others are nowhere 
found in the Vedas ; but they are found in later works of the Brahmanic period. 
We come across the following line in Satapatha Brahmana. 

*Tt is the new moon of Vaisakha. . .which becomes a source of prosperity to us, 
to people and to beasts." 

Satapatha Brahmana consists of two parts ccirprising 14 sectiensin all. 
The first part, known as Purva Satapatha, contains 10 sections (=€6 chapters) 
and the second part, Uttara Satapatha consists of 4 sections (—34 chapters). 
The above line occurs in the 11th section ; just before this line we get the line 

which means "do not lit fire on the naksatra", and it has been ordaired in the 
first part that 'adhana' should take place specifically on the naksatra. We 
get a reference of the term 'Vedanta* at two or three places in the same portion 
of the 1 1th section in which the above line occurs and in which the portion of the 
Vedic literature known as 'Vedanta' containing Upanisads also occurs 
and the 14th section of Satapatha Brahmana is devoted to the theory of Vedanta 
itself; that it is known as Brhadaranyaka is also well known. It can easily 
be seen from this that the second part of Satapatha Brahmana belongs to a 

Vedanga Perigd 131 

much later period than the first one; and no objection can be raised if we say 
that the names, Caitra etc. came into vogue in the latter part of the Brahmanic 
period. The Kausitaki Brahmana gives the line 

W?t ST. H- ^- \* 
"One should commence a sacrifice after the passing of *ekaha' of the new 
moon of Pausa"; 

in which we get the terms Taisa (i,e, Pausa) and Magha. This very line has 
at its end a sentence which means that winter solstice occurs in the beginning 
of Magha. This shows that the time of this Brahmana (K. Br.) must have 
been the same (viz. 1500 B.S.) as that of Vedanga Jyoti?a. The Panca Vinisa 
Brahmana gives the following line : — 

<i«fifer«T. *♦ e* e. 

'The month known as Phalguna is the 'month' (i.e. the commencing month) 
of the year'*. 

This refers to the month Phalguna. The whole consideration shows that 
the-, names of months, Caitra and others, were never in vogue in the Yedic 
times, but had come into use, at the end of the Brahmanic period. 

The Time when these Terms (Caitra etc, ) came into vogue. 

Let us consider the problem of finding the time when these names came into 
use. The sidereal year exceeds the solar year by about 50 palas. Seasons 
depend upon solar year. The season which would seem to occur to-day when 
the sun would come to equinox, would seem to occur even after thousands of 
years when the sun comes to equinox ; but seasons will not be the same for 
all times to come when the sun comes to the same particular naksatra ; a differ- 
ence of two months (for the occurrence of the same season) will take place 
after about 4300 years i.e. of one month after about 2000 years. * Thus, if 
the Spring season has been observed to be occurring when the sun comes to 
A&vinl, the next season Summer (i.e. the Grisma) would be found to occur at 
the sun's entry into Asvini after about 4J thousand years, and the rainy 
season after about 8J thousand years. The time interval between che sun's 
two coincidences with Asvini star is known as the sidereal year. When the 
sua is near Asvini star, the moon is near about Citra star on the full moon 
day, and hence, this lunar month comes to be known as Caitra. Hence, if 
the spring season is observed to occur in a lunar month known as Caitra (from 
Moon's proximity with the star Citra on full moon day), the spring will be 
seen to commence some time in Caitra for 2150 years and then some time in 
Phalguna for another 2150 years and then in Magha for another 2150 years. 
(Or in other words, the summer season will be seen to occur in Caitra after 
about 4J thousand years after the time when spring season used to occur 
in Citra.) In short the month Caitra would maintain its position as the 
first month of spring for about 2000 years only. 

* A detailed discussion of precessional motion and of sayana system will be found in the 
second part. The consideration of such matters in this chapter are made on the assumption 
that the equinoctial point makes a revolution in about 26000 years. 

2DGO/59 10 

132 History of Indian Astronomy 

• .^e find the identity 'Caitra + Vaisakha = Vasanta (spring) season* 

in almost all works. The moment of commencement of season receded after a 

long time after the above identity became established in practice, and that 

lb why we come across"Mina + Mesa = Vasanta ' or ' Phalguna + Caitra = 

Spnng in some later works, and some almanac makers follow this identity 

at present. In our times the spring season is actually found to occur in 

Magna and Phalguna, but the definition 'Caitra + Vaisakha =.- Vasanta 

season still persists in popular minds. The names Madhu and Madhava 

have association with seasons and not with naksatras ; still the long usage of 

the identity Caitra + Vaisakha = Spring ' has made people wrongly to shift 

the association of Madhu from that of Spring season to the naksatra name 

and Caitra is now wrongly called as « Madhumasa '. When the time of 

commencement of spring receded from Caitra to Phalguna, the identity, 

rnalguna + Chaitra = Vasanta' came into use and we find this definition 

- m some later works. But we do not find the identities 'Vaisakha + Jyestha 

*= Vasanta and ' Caitra as the, second month of Sisira' in any of the older 

works*, when it was a fact that, spring actually began one month earlier than 

Caitra (say, 2000 years before). This definitely points to the fact that the 

names Caitra etc. came into vogue in those times when the vernal equinox 

actually used to take place in Caitra ; and this hint can lead one to find the 

probable time. The spring season commences one month before the sun 

comes to equinox i.e. when the tropical longitude of the sun is 330° ; and 

in order that the corresponding month should be named as Nirayana* Caitra, 

■S!_?S , of o Spica (Citra) must be less than this b y 6 si S ns or 180° i.e. = 
330--I8O === 150 . The tropical longitude of this star in 1850 A. D. was 6" 

T> — '«™~ or "i excess of 150° by 51°. The time for this advance= 51 


im loc/T^^P™ 106 ' the tune for s P rin S to occur m Caitra must be 
jo/z ..— 1850 = 1822 B. C, and it can be inferred that the terms Caitra etc 
must have come into vogue in this period. Now taking into consideration 
the tact that the spring season commences earlier in some provinces and later 
in others, the time when the terms Caitra etc came into use will be taken to be 
earlier than what is found above. In some provinces the spring commences 
about a month and a half before the sun comes to vernal equinox and not 
earlier- Adopting the condition of "H month earlier than equinoctial day" 
the time of Caitradi system would come to be 2900 B.C. Again, the doubt as 
to when the spring season should be taken as begun, the different longitudinal 
values of naksatras, all these factors lead one to adopt 4000 B. S. as the upper- 
most limit for the possible year before which the terms Caitra etc. could not 
have come into vogue. The Vedanga Jyotisa contains Caitra etc. as the 
names of months ; its time has been shown to be about the year 1400 B.*S. 
The Taittirlya Samhita does not contain these names and the time of compil 
lation of some of its parts has been shown to be about 3000 B. S. He who 
has understood the sacrificial procedure given by Taittirlya Samhita and the 
units of time like seasons and months, will know that if these 'terms would 
nave been in use m the time of Taittirlya Samhita they must have entered the 
text at some place or the other. This argument will convince the reader that 
the terms Were not current before the time 3000 B. S. There are several 
big volumes of Brahmanic works (at least 4) . which do not mention these 
terms, It is clear that these are of later date than Taittirlya Samhita. After 
weighing all these facts the writer feels that the time when the names Caitra 

* Far the sake of convenience I call a solar month as sayana and the sidereal month as 

Vedanga Period ' 133 

etc. came into vogue should be safely taken to be 2000 B. S. Those parts 
of Kausitaki, Satapatha and Pancaviipia Brahmanas which mention these 
terms, must have been compiled between 2000 and 1500 B.S. 

Commencement of the Year. 

In the Rigveda Samhita no actual statement is made that a particular 
season should be regarded as the first one, nor do we find any indication 
about it. The words Sarad, Hemanta and Vasanta (names of seasons) are 
themselves used in the sense of a 'Year' and hence there are grounds to believe 
that the year used to commence with these seasons ; but the words Grisma. 
Varsa and Sisira are not found used in the Rigveda Samhita in the sense of 
e year * 

It has already been said(onpage 63) before that the year used to commence 
with Spring season and Madhu month in the age when the : Ya?u?veda 
. Samhita was composed and generaUy in the Vedic age. There is no clear state- 
authors tZ^Z?** !? at *? year be « an * other seasons ' and S is the 
r^S tha t l we do not come across any indcation to show that the 
year commenced with winter solstice. This was Prof. Tilak's view and this 

com^en^ tTw i &te i ° n ' In - VedaA S a J y Qti ? a time, the year no doubt 
S™S ; however, m the time when Sutra works and the Maha- 
and V«iS?wSl ^ the first season was Spring which consisted of Caitra 
St thfv? f. to f gether - Jhis shows that both these systems were in vogue 
.after the Vedic times ; but the system of beginning the year with spring 

ST^l^" 1 ? -P r r^ ently T USed ' Since th * " W. S, g year banning system" 
Z^mM^^ e ^ n T Jy0t T age ' Mso > we findinlater astronomical 
w?th T Cai?rJ S& l™ ad °P te d the system of commencing the year 
u l l ^Jitra and they must have adopted this as the svstem in voeue iust 
before the compilation of these works. y S J 

It has been pointed out before (on page III) that we get references 

with W °Ma^sa m AIkJ*^^** " of mlhs begS 
Jw^^^wtn523 m, ; t S vdI ^ with Mahmudof.Ghazni, has 
MargaSsa* This Jnlt ^^ pr0vinces ^mmence the year with 

that^S^a^Sh^ J fl J 5 > gue at about 300 ° B ' S -' and 'it ^ems 
provinces ^00* Rafter tU J!?"!] be ' e ? arded as the ** month in some 

the first oneTfhe Lxt rnnntf k f S ° me l Una J month and U. Phalgunl 
(lunar). This &™ M telXJrf^ ^^ ^ daily nak?atras 
a lunar month which enHeH w ff«^ ° mmenCmg a year on **» next ^y of 
have commute vogue Sdto^&T^^ Mrgasirsa.' must 

yanl. This must hive bdonteLi to t£f? ^ t0 £ e k ? OWn as A ^^ 
^ oeion ged to the time when M rgasirsa was' regarded 

* See p. 8, Biruni, India Vol II " — 

t Their references from Tai. Br. 1. 1. 2. are given later on 
2DGO/59 ^- - • - - - ^ TCUiareron - . ... ,__ 


134 History of Indian Astronomy 

as the first naksatra ; naturally, Krttikas took the place of Mrga and became 
the first naksatra. Hence, following the old tradition, people began to com- 
mence the year on the next day of the month in which the moon used to be 
full near Pleides, i.e. in the month of Margasirsa, which was a lunar month 
belonging to Purnimanta'-system. Even in these days, we know that the 
lunar month following a * full moon with Krttikas' is known as Margasifsa. 
Following this analogy it may be argued that there must have been a time 
when the year used to commence on the next day of the night when the moon 
used to be full with Mrgaslrsa ; but a diflSculty comes in making this 
assumption. Such a month would be the lunar Pausa ; and we do not get 
any reference to show that a year ever commenced in Pausa. We do not see 
any reason for Mrgaslrsa being regarded as the first naksatra, other than 
the occurrence of vernal equinox in that naksatra. The equinox used to 
occur in the month of Margasifsa about 4000 B.S. It has been pointed out that 
the system of naming months after naksatras had not come into vogue then; 
and that is why this particular month (now known as Margasirsa) used to be 
Agrahayana or Agrahayani, and the absence of any reference for a year 
commencing in Pausa is l^ius understandable. The writer sometimes feels, 
that the system of naming a lunar month commencing on the next day of 
*|full moon with Krttika" as Kartika, that commencing on the next day of 
"full moon with Mrgasirsa" as Margasirsa, and so on, might have been in 
use ; but we do not have it so now, nor do we get any indication of such a 
system being in vogue before. The full moon day is always regarded as the 
last tithi of the Turnimanta lunar month' or of the 'light half-month' and 
never used to belong to the latter month or the second half-month, as can be 
seen from a number of quotations in the Vedic literature ; and the same system 
is followed at present. Hence, the following definition can be proved on the 
basis of the quotation of Panini (4.2.21) [viz. "Sasminpaumamasiti samj- 
naydm"]. The lunar month in which the moon becomes full on Krttikas to be 
known as Kartika, and the month which would commence from the next 
day as Margasirsa, since the moon would be found to be full near Mrgaslrsa 
in that month. In short, it can be said that the system of commencing the 
year with Margasirsa must have come into vogue in some provinces after the 
Krttikadi system came into use (i.e. after 3000 B.S.). 

According to Prof. Tilak*, the month Margasirsa got the name 'Agra 
hayanik', not because it formed the first month of the year, but because of its 
association with the star 'Agrahayana', the derivation of this word being 
according to him that naksatra after which the year follows and the sun coming 
to which shows the equinox and the year begins. This meaning is of course 
acceptable to the author ; but Prof. Tilak assumes two things (or at least they 
are so understood), viz. (i) that the system of commencing a year in Marga- 
sirsa was not in vogue and (ii) that the year never began on the next day of that 
full moon night on which the moon conjuncted with Mrgasirsa. Even without 
these assumptions, his interpretation of the word 'agrahayana' can be justified . 
We come across actual quotations that Margasirsa formed the first month 
of the year and this fact can not be denied. Similarly, it has been shown above, 
that it was not impossible for the year to have been commencing on the next 
day of the full moon with Mrgasirsa and that it actually did. 

The Mqrgasirsadi System 

Agrahayani has been given a synonym of Mrgaslrsa naksatra in Amara- 
kosa. The same word occurs in Panini at 3 places (4.2.22 ; 4.3.50 ; 5.4.110) 

* See Orion, Ch IV. " ~~~ 

Vedanga Period 135 

and the month of Margaslrsa derives its name of Agrahayanik from the word 
Agrahayanl. (Panini 4.2.22) According to grammarians, the word 
AgrahayanI chiefly stands for the Margasirsa full moon ; and even with this 
meaning, because ' Agrahayanl ' is the meaning of Margaslrsa, the Mrga- 
sirsa naksatra must be associated with the moon on the Agrahayanl full 
moon day, and * Agrahayanl ' has begun to be understood as that full' moon 
day or the next day of which the year commenced. This shows that there was 
a system of commencing the_year on the next day of the Margaslrsa Purnima, 
having the full moon near Agrahayanl (/. <?,. Mrgasirsa) star. Such a month 
bears the mame ' Pausa ' by present astronomical system and by Panini's 
system also. It has been shown above that the system of year beginning in 
Margaslrsa came into vogue after 3000 B.S. Hence, the system of commencing 
a year on Pausa must be prior to this system i.e. more ancient than 300.0 
B.S.; but the phenomenon of Mrgasirsa star being on equator was an impossi- 
bility then ; the reason for the year commencing on Margaslrsa could not 
have been anything else than the occurrence of vernal equinox in Mrgasi- 
rsa star. " 

Mr. Bal Gangadhar Tilak wrote a book 'Orion ' in English in 1893 A.D. 
in which he has proved, from quotations in the Rigveda Samhita, particularly 
the verse 1.163.3 and the stanza 10,86, that the vernal equinox used to take 
place in Mrgasirsa in Vedic times ; and many legends current in India, Persia 
and Greece are fully explained by assumming the truth of this phenomenon ; 
and the Mrgadi-system suggests that the time of compilation of some verses 
in the Rigveda Samhita must have been about 4000 B.S. which has been 
shown to be true from ' Agrahayanl ' being the name of Mrgasirsa. 

Mr. Tilak has also shown that some Vedic references suggest that 
the equinox used to occur in Punarvasu. Although the references are not so 
-clear or so many as in the case of Mrgasirsa, yet the phenomenon is not impossi- 
ble to have occurred. The equinox used to be in Punarvasu before 6000 
B.S. and some of the Vedic Sutras could have been possibly compiled then. 

Mr. Tilak argues from the stanza describing the annual sacrifice (samvat- 
sara satra) that the phenomenon of W. S. happening on Citra full moon 
and the Phalguni full moon days leads one to infer that vernal equinoxes used 
to occur on Mrga and Punarvasu respectively. But the fact that vernal 
equinox used to occur in Mrga naksatra can be proved independently and does 
not require the support of the quotation viz. 'W.S. used to take place in Phal- 
guna'. There are certain difficulties in not accepting these stanzas for consi- 
deration. The first one is that this fact is not stated therein explicitly. The 
second one is that the 'Phalguni-Purnima ' has been said to be the commenc- 
ing day of the year; similar ideas are found expressed in Taittiriya Srati as gvien 
below :— 

w*ft ^^sfarwffcr 1 1 **fr> $ VT9qCT$ ii *w* *r Tar^rt 1 1 % I 1 *3*f?T: 1 1 
*Nmw ii s?rR **wft ti *«a ^ tfTOTOnfrnraira 1 ' h srcfrw **f?r n iicsiv 

< *T. t, ?. *. 

, „ " A Brahmin should 'establish fire' (i.e. commence the annual sacrifice) 
in Spring season, which is the (proper) season for a Brahmana, because it is 
the mouth i. e. the first season of the year. Now, about Spring season 

He who commences a sacrifice in Spring becomes a leader never 

. *""lU 

136 History t>f Indian Astronomy 

commence it on Purva Phalgunl, because it is the hindermost (/. e. last) 

night of the year do commence it on the Uttara Phalgunl 

naksatra, as it is the first night of the year; one who 'establishes fire' 
in the beginning of a year, becomes wealthy." 

According to this by the word 'Phalgunl' we have to understand the- 
full moon night, the moon being conjoined with Phalgunl naksatra. At 
present the Phalguna-month of the 'Purnimanta' system ends on the 
Phalgunl full moon day and Caitra begins on the next day. Similarly 
we, find in the above lines, the Purva Phalgunl full moon day being men- 
tioned as the last day of the year, and the next night as the 'mouth' 
(commencing night) of the new year, and the 'adhana' ceremony has been 
recommended for that day; and in the foregoing lines we find that 'adhana' 
ceremony has been ordained to take place on the same day, it being the 
beginning day of the Spring season. All these lines are given in the same 
stanza and must be Correlated. This proves that the Phalgunf-full-moon 
day must have definite relation with Spring. The Asvalayana Srauta 
Sutra gives, in relation to annual sacrifice, the line (1. 2. 14. 3.) 

* ' 

"Those who desire to commence yearly or half-yearly sacrifices should 
make use of the full m oh day of Phalguna or Caitra." 

And in Asvalayana Sutra the months of Phalguna and Caitra are 
related to Sisira and Vasanta respectively; and the Hemanta season is 
bound to commence with W. S.; but nowhere do we find any relation of 
Phalguna with Hemanta. In some provinces the spring season is taken to 
begin even two months before the sun comes to the equinox; and on this basis, 
the commencement of spring season with Caitn Purnima must be taken to 
happen about 4000 B. C, and the spring season can be seen to take place 
in the same particular month for 2000 years and hence the commencement 
of spring with Phalgunl Purnima must be taking place about 2000 B. C. and 
the idea of introducing the system of commencing the year at this very 
moment could have struck people's mind and no discrepancy is s far 
noticed in our reasoning. The Visuvan day used to occupy the central 
place in the Samvatsara-Satra (annual sacrifice); but the word 'Visuvan' 
does not appear necessarily to mean that day on which the day and night 
are of equal length. The year has been described as commencing on a 
full m on day; and once it is assumed that the central day should be one 
equinoctial day, it follows that the commencing day als must be another 
equinoctial day (within a limit of two days); and in order to satisfy this 
condition, it will be seen that the year cannot be made to begin on a full 
moon day. For, supposing a certain full moon day (being the commencing 
day of a year) was an equinoctial day; then the next equinoctial day would 
be the 11th day after the full moon day and the 3rd one, the 22nd day 
and so on. This shows that the word 'Visuvan' used to mean in the 
beginning the 'central day of an annual sacrifice or of any other sacrifice' 
and this was particularly true about the Taittirlya Samhita; and as time 
went on, the term perhaps used to be applied to the equinoctial day and 
the year began on such day, and that is whv the formula for finding out 
the VisuvSn day has been given by Vedang'a Jyotisa. Even according to 
Mr. TRlak's belief, the Visuvan day of 12 hours' (30 ghafis) length, does 
not occur in the middle of an annual sacrifice, but at the end of the 3rd and 

Vedanga Period 137 

9th months. It has been shown above, that there is no ground for any one 
to suspect that in the times when the stanza describing the annual sacrifice 
in the Taittiriya Samhita was compiled, the Visuvan (of the meaning of 
an equinox) used to occur in Phalguna. 

The Limits of Vedic Age 

The lower limit of the Vedic age can be roughly estimated on the basis of the 
foregoing discussion. But who would be able to fix up the upper limit ? It 
can only be said that it can not be later than the year 6000 B.S. No one can 
say as to when the Vaidic mantras evolved in the human mind and in one sense 
the Vedas can be said to be 'Anadi' i.e. without a beginning. The lower 
limit of the Vedic age is about the year 1 500 B.S. This is followed by Vedanga 
Jyotisa. The Samhitas (i.e. collections of mantras) of all the Vedas, 
Brahmanas and some of the Upanisads have been compiled during 
this period. Some Upanisads might have been compiled even during 
Vedanga Jyotisa period ; but the lower limit of the Vedic age has already 
been given above. A part of the Rigveda Samhita belongs to 4000 B S 
The Taittiriya Samhita belongs to 3000 B.S. The Brahmanas were compiled 
between 3000 to 1500 B.S. Those of them which contain terms like 'Caitra 
and others' were compiled later than 2000 B.S., while others were compiled 
earlier. Nothing definite can be said about the Upanisads ; but many of 
them were compiled between 2000 to 1500 B.S. It is not that the mantras of 
the Samhita and Brahmana were compiled in the same time in the form in 
which they appear to us to-day, still it can be said that they emerged in their 
complete form before 1500 B.S. 

Prof. Max Muller has thus attempted to fix up the period of the Vedic 
age :— "Lord Buddha attained 'Nirvana' in the year 477 B.C. The Bauddha 
religion had its beginning about 100 years before this. The Vedic works 
were completely compiled till 600 B.C. They appear to belong to 3 periods 
—Sutra, Brahmana and Mantra, the Sutra period ranging from 600 to 8'00 
B.C., the Brahmana period 800 to 1000 B.C.; and the Mantras of all Mandalas 
(sections) of the Rigveda were compiled in an earlier period." It is his opinion* 
that no human being will be able to say whether the Rigveda Sutras were 
compiled in 1000, 1500, 2000 or 3000 years B.C. and Europeans accept this 
view. These inferences are based only on history and philology. Taking 
into consideration this fact and also the assumption of a period of only 200 
years for each Vedic subperiod, the author feels that the limits fixed above, 
on the basis of astronomical evidences should be accepted as correct. 

The Limits of Vedanga Period ' 

1500 B. S. is the upper limit of the Vedangas. The lower limit can be 
fixed up after examining the problem as to when the 7 week days and Mesadi 
signs came into vogue. The names of seven week days are not found in the 
Vedic literature. Of the remaining ancient works, references of week days 
are found in none except in Atharva Jyotisa and Yajnavalkya Smrti ; and 
references to Mesa and others are found in hone other than Baiidhayana 
Sutra. . " 

It is needless to say that both are mentioned in Surya Siddhanta andother 
such works. Even if it be supposed that both of them are products of Indian 
mind, they, at least, did not belong to the Vedic period. 

*Physical Religion, pp. 91-96 (1891 A.D.). ~ ~ 

238 History of Indian Astronomy 

The order of names for the 7 week-days is as follows : 
If the planets be regarded , as revolving round the earth, they can be 
written in their order as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun Venus, Mercury 
and Moon. It is assumed that the day is divided into 24 hours (Hora> 
and these horas are controlled by these seven planets m this very order. 
These planets get the lordship of the horas thrice in a day and 3 more horas- 
remain Hence, the lordship of the 1st hora at sunrise passes on to the 4th 
olanet If, for example, the lord of the first hour on the first day be Saturn 
fthen last 3 hours will be controlled by Saturn, Jupiter & Mars) and Sun will 
be the lord of the first hour on-the next day ; and following the convention 
Oat Lord of the first hour to be reckoned as the lord of the whole day 
if Saturn be the Lord of the first day, the Sun becomes Lord of the second 
and hence, Saturday is followed by Sunday Thus we get the usual order 
of names of week days. It should be noted that the next day bearsthe 
name of every 4th planet from the previous one. The Surya Siddhanta 
observes as follows about it :— 

"The Lords of days are to be reckoned in order fourth from Saturn 
downwards. The lords of hours also are to be reckoned commencing from 

^^venXabhlta says that the lords of days are to be taken as >4th from 
the previous on© ' " Sighra Kramat caturthah dinapab ( Kn. 16). 

The system of dividing a day into 24 parts called 'hora ' is true 
only in consideration with the theory of week days and astrology The 
astronomical works, Siddhantas, do enumerate time-units but they do not 
mention 'hora ' as one of them, and no work belonging to Vedic and Vedan- 
ga period ever mentions it. This word is not Sanskrit in origin. Varaha- 
mihira has attempted to justify its Sanskrit origin by explaining that the word 
is 'coined' by taking the middle portion of the word ^Wro, leaving 
out 'A' and 'Tra\ but this explanation is not satisfactory. The Chaldeans 
had this unit in use since a long time and they did haye a week of seven 
days as at present. Considering this the author feels that 'Week-days 
do not belong to us but have been borrowed from Chaldeans. 

It has been shown under the topics of Vedanga Jyotisa and the Maha- 
bharata that the terms Mesa and others are Sanskrit and it can not be said for 
certain that the system of dividing the ecliptic into 12 parts did not originally 
belong to us. Even from Vedic works we find that people did conceive the 
idea of giving to asterisms names similar to some well known shapes. We 
can not, therefore, say for certain that the Mesadi signs are not ours These 
terms, however, do not belong to Vedic or Vedanga Jyoti?a period which 
Sn that these were not in use before 1500 B.S. Now looking to the history 
of other nations, some say that these were known to Egyptians before 2160 
BC and according to others even before 3285 B.C. Some are of opinion 
{bat Chaldeans knlw both Vara and Rasis before 3800 B.C. In any case^t 
can be said for certain that both these nations knew the terms before 1000 
B C and Mr. Laing writes emphatically that the ' Varas' were known to 

Chaldeans long be fore 3800 B. C* __ 

". See Proctor Lockair*s English book "Nteteenth Century" and his ardcteiothe July 
TS92 Sue, fS 34 ; also see S. Laing's Human Origins, Chap. V. pp. 144-158. 

Vedanga Period j3£ 

It can be seen from Vedanga Jyotisa that both of these were unVn rt «m 
in our country before 1500 B.S. ' unknown 

It is a matter of controversy if the terms Mesa and others originated 
with shapes of clusters of stars. There does not appear to be any Sbn 
between their shape and name, irrespective of the consideration whether these 
belonged to Indians or have been borrowed. We do not get the fom of a 

Krn^ e? t fr0n l the dUSter ! °£ Stars of A * vinI ' Bhara * ««* «»ae siSEfrSm 
Krttika. Mesa happens to be first in order of signs and begins from a7v£? 

Just as we have a definite reference of a Krttikadi system havin? been ?« 

vogue before the Asvinyadi system, we do not find an/reference b g y which 

it can be said that the order of Rasis began from a sign other than Mela Jt 

tW ^ t lgn began fr0m a Dak?atra other than Mvini '* and th *reis no doubt 
that these terms, were not current in the Vedanga period. Hence, it can be easilv 
inferred that these terms came into vogue at ! time when the venS equtnox 
occured m Asvininaksatra and Mesa sign simultaneously. The tropkaUon** 

£ iR?n fn 8t S Beta ^ ietis was 31 ° 53 ' and that of Mfca Arietis 35?S" 
in 1850 AD Hence, the years when the longitudes of these stars were Nero 

SSE life 31 7? X JV (= r 2296) r 1850 = ^ 6 B - C and 3 5 34" X 72(~ 
2561)-1850 = 711 B. C. It is, therefore, impossible that the terms Me» 

££,r?7o «° W ^ m A° Ur f° Ulltry before these dates ' the m «an of these dates 
£S? ? 9 \ Sk An u° the / im P° rt ^t fact is that the time when Sravanadi 
system ^scribed by the Mahabharata came in vogue, has been proved to 
be about 450BC (See page HO), and the Mahabharata does not contain any 
reference about Mesadi terms ; hence, it can be safely inferred that ?hese 
terms were unknown m our country before 500 B. S. It will be sholn 
!? r k T r that SO , mC ? f the Sidd ^ntic works like the old Surya-Siddfaanta 
d L n ^ d0ngt0 ? date Iater than 200 B. C. They do contain iS7 terms Me a 

nnllwl -UT?? y * Can be Pr0ved beyond doubt that some of ^astro- 
nomical (Siddhanta) works were compiled earlier than this date. All these 

considerations lead one to infer that the Mesadi terms were introduced! 

our country about 500 BS. and the week-day names came into use 500 years 

before this date. It has already been pointed out that suggesting a svsJmof 

Rasis (Mesa and others) and of week days is not a matter of much important 

ptnets ^eXfo?;. 18 ** caW * ta ° f actUal ***** a » d ^SS^ 
In short, the lower 'limit of the Vedanga period comes to be 500 B.S. 
All those original works which contain the Caitradi terms but neither the 

Vara or Rasi names, must be taken to belong to the Vedanga period since 

SSti^S!? V, 6 SOt T ry im ° them ' had these **» currlnHn V^da^a 
Jyotisa period. The works on astronomy and religion belone to this cate^nfv 

and naturally the ' Kalpa Sutras' and 'Smrti's cometo belong M thi S£Sy ' 

AH works described m Part One, excepting Baudhayana Sfitra, belong tf the 

Vedanga period ; and there is no harm if we say that, of these works those 

SmbS n ° Th?!^ ^ refere » ceof Week <**• were com P«ed earlier than 
i^Jrf ^ a ? • f conipiIatlon of each particular work must be 

decided after considering the work independently. Fresh additions have 

BT m fhf^ the V eX i° fth ^^ Mahabharata from time to time ttfl 5W 
B.S. the matter of Sravanadi system lends a support to this view Som* 
more interpolations might have been made even afte tni date but some 
portions of the work are very ancient. The astronomical descript oHf 

140 * History of Indian Astronomy 

Siddl£nta W pZiot ° J tHeVedMsa P eriod is the «PP" '*** of the Jyotisa 

wAl* SS dk ?K to Say that the limits of the Vedic and the- VcdiAga age as 
fixed by the author are not very accurate. The ancient history and ancient 
literature are still matters of research and the above limits are &ely to XL 
when the research ,s made. The author is, however, certaiTthatSSSSS 
limit for the , Vedic period can not be later than 1500 B.S. and th«of VriSS 
period not later, than 200 B.S. veaanga 


w "S e S ° f f P ad e discussion must have made it clear that excepting the 
last few centuries, the year was strictly seasonal or solar throughout the 
Vedic age. The momhs were lunar and adjustment to solar year'uf ed to bl 

Trt il? ^ ter A°i a ! 1 i? g ftfl int f Calary mont i at a s * itab ' e p'ace We find 
sense o^veTr^w' n , ames ,? f seaso ° s ^ Sarad, Hemanta etc. used in the 
sense of a year. This shows that one complete cycle of seasons formed the 
measure of a year and such a system of maintaining the measure o? a vear 
was followed in the Rigveda Samhita age. The Zfs like™- Y 

^^rf^ wmHT: ^i^fr^r 

w .«t 5. v». ?. U. 

tu "^ ^ ea I Can S * and oniy with the help of seasons" indicates the same idea 
The denyed meanmg of the word "Samvatsara" is "Samvasami XT£y£r*>> 
i.e year is that period m which the seasons stand completely. These quotation 
cliarly support the view that in Vedic times, by the term year was ^unTerstood 
a period of one complete revolution of seasons. understood 

_ Madhu and Madhava were the months of a year (Samvatsara) These 
indicate seasons. The importance of these months in the Yaimveda Samhitl 
and m all Brahmana works will be clear from the divine status which^hese 
months received. It will also be seen from the terms Aruna and^thers thft 
they are associated with seasons and not with naksatras The names of 
months current in the major portion of the Vedic age were Madhu and Xrs 
the Caitradi names got introduction in the last period of Ae age These 
names got their association with the naksatras and Thence the lear calculated 

year came into use about 2000 B.TS., when the Caitradi names associated with 
na^ksatras came into vogue ; and before this time, people couM carry on S 

ESS as %kk ^^^Z^^ss. 

SS^rtiS«r^5 Pp, ^ 31) ^ lattherewere diffic ^lties for the introduction 
tS^^Si^^ nak ^ tras ,got their names and that much time 

X thlyeT^tt^t ^au ?7 n WIth0Ut ** other su PP° rt {t ca * *>e shown 
and not thlr.^-V at ^adhvadi names *™ a divine status in the Vedas 

•^^e^fhrfnS®???-^ ° ne to i^ that a number of centuries 
must nave elapsed before Caitradi names became current The ■ naksatra 

JSfS^hS? T " ^f ' Vi f le i heilce * is but ^turahhlt the Seasonal 
ween trTw! °tZ ^ ""^ *""? th .^ side ^al year which is the interval bet- 
^^o??at.XfSf? t i Ve coincidences with ^e same star. Now when 

one I ^shouWnS 1 5l£ t" year *??* mt ° Use first and » ot the siderea l 
one, u snouia not be taken to mean that a correct tropical vear camp into 

are after the actual difference between the lengths ofXtVo years o«ame 

Vedanga Pbriod 141 

known after studying the precessional motion of equinoxes. They in the Vedic 
age had the system of interpolating an intercalary month at the proper place 
so as to maintain the correct relation of lunar months with the seasons, so 
that the months of Madhu and Madhava would on average be found to occur 
in the spring season. Even when a ' fixed year ' came into vogue in the latter 
part of the Vedic age, the year was to commence with W. S. as ordained by 
Vedanga Jyotisa, and other works recommended the commencement of a year 
with spring. From this, it is clear that their object was throughout that of 
following a seasonal year and they never dreamt that they are not following 
a tropical year system just as we in the present time do not suspect the change. 
Even if Mr. Tilak's argument be accepted that in Vedic times year commenced 
from W. S., the commencement of a year with a solstice is nothing else than 
following a seasonal year, and the year proves to be tropical and not a sidereal 
(or fixed) one. In short, we find that the seasonal year was in long use before 
the fixed year and from historical point of view the tropical year was acceptable 
to 'Srutis' and it was a natural one. Spring has been described as the 
'mouth' of a year, Madhu and Madhava as months of the spring season and 
the Madhvadi names were current. All these things can not remain true 
without following a tropical year. The seasons will not be found to occur 
in the same months by following the naksatra-month-system, and an idea 
of their departure from the usual position is already given on page 132. From 
this it is proved that it was the tropical year which was acceptable to Srutis. 


Almost all aspects of the Yuga-system have been discussed in the preface. 
According to Aryabhata II, Mercury was behind the sun by about 9° in the 
beginning of the present Kaliyuga. According to the Surya-Siddhanta and 
Aryabhata I the longitude of the moon's Apogee was 90° and that of its Node 
180° ; but Brahmagupta and Aryabhata II quote different values for them. 

While examining the works of the Manu Smrti and the Mahabharata it has 
been shown that the measures of time units, yugas etc., as given by astrono- 
mical (Siddhanta) works, were already defined and fixed. These works are 
said to give as a criterion of the commencement of yuga the condition that all 
planets must come together in the beginning of Kaliyuga and of each other 
Yuga. . (According to some other works all planets come to a close conjunction 
at the beginning of a Kalpa and come together within a reasonable proximity 
m that of a Mahayuga). This criterion or condition is neither found in these 
works or in any of the works discussed before. On the contrary we find 
in the Mahabharata the condition for starting a Krtayuga, to be "the coming 
together of the sun, Jupiter, the moon and the fisya (Pusya) star" (Vana 
Parva, 1 90.90/91). Similarly according to the astronomical works, the Kaliyuga 
started m the year 3179 B.S. But we do not find in any later works an ex- 
plicit or implicit mention of this yuga having been so started. No reference 
to this age or to a criterion of the commencement is found in any of the Pura- 
nas and the above mentioned condition also is not well known. 

The current year Saka 1817 is the 4996th year of Kali elapsed. It shows that 
so many years have elapsed after the commencement of the Kali era. This 
era, according to the Surya Siddhanta, commenced on Thursday at midnight 
HhVL- 1 was the mean A^vasya of Phalguna. According to some other 
Siddhantas it commenced after 15 ghafis more, that is on Friday morning. 
Prot. Whitney has, in his translation of the Surya-Siddhanta in English 


History of Indian Astronomy 

calculated mean positions of planets by accurate European formulae true for 
the midnight of Thursday, the 17th February 3102 B. C. (Julian period) which 
is the moment of commencement of Kali. The author has given in the following 
table these positions and also those calculated by him with the help of Astro- 
nomical Tables by Prof/Keropant Chhatre. These tables have been prepared 
by him with the help of European books on astronomy, and Prof. Whitney 
has calculated the figures with the help of these European books. The true 
places of planets at the beginning of Kali as calculated by the Surya Siddhanta 
formulae are also given in a separate column. The author has also given 
in. another column planets* true places, the calculations of which have been 
based on Whitney's mean places, and taking nodes and perihelions from 
Keropant's tables. The European tables are proved to be very accurate in 
modern times and their calculations are verifiable by actual observations of 
planets in the sky. If these tables are followed, the positions of planets 5000 
years ago must be found to be tolerably accurate, if not quite correct. 

Places of planets in the beginning of Kali 

Sayana mean longitudes 

True positions 


According to 

According to 
Chhatre's tables 


According to 
Surya Siddhanta 


301° 45' 43* 

301° 13' 42* 

303° 35' 42* 

2° 07' 27* 


308 03 50 

301 36 18 

312 15 30 

5 02 46 

Moon's Perigee 

44 56 42 

67 32 42 

90 00 00 

Moon's Node 

148 02 16 

145 00 00 

147 53 34 

180 00 00 


268 34 05 

267 36 42 

288 03 54 

358 07 27 


234 36 30 

333 45 24 

316 12 06 

52 12 


289 48 05 

289 11 18 

300 34 18 

5 42 30 


318 16 07 

318 04 06 

317 45 54 

42 00 


281 36 18 

280 02 18 1 278 00 18 

353 24 57 

The author has not applied the (^T^fa*) time correction to the mean posi- 
tions of planets calculated by him by Keropant's tables. Keropant has mentioned 
a " Kalantar " [time] correction to be given only to the sun, moon, moon's 
perigee and moon's nocre. If it be applied to them they would agree with the 
places given by Whitney; and other planets, even when no "Kalantar" (time) 
correction be given to them agree wtih Whitney's places. This shows that Whit- 
ney has not given this correction to the five planets, Mercury and others. 

The mean longitudes of all planets except Rahu (moon's ascending node) 
are zero, according to the Surya Siddhanta. The European positions of 
planets are Sayana and those of the S. S. are Nirayana. The measure of the 
error of our astronomical works is equal to the excess or deficit 
of the difference between sayana sun and any sayana planet and that between 
t he longitudes of the sun and the corresponding planet according to the S. S. 

Vedanga Period 143 

We find that the sun's place according to Whitney is in advance of Mercury 
by about 33° and Venus is in advance of the sun by about 32°. If, therefore* 
the European tables are correct the error in the mean places of planets calcu- 
lated according to our works should be taken to be equal to the planetary 

The planets in the sky are observed to occupy the calculated true places- 
and not their mean places . A glance at the places calculated by European 
tables shows that the maximum distance between the sun and other planet 
is that of Saturn (25 c ) behind and of Jupiter (14°) in advance. According to 
the Surya SiddHanta all planets are within 9 degrees of the sun and are there- 
fore ' invisible ' and there appears to have occurred a solar eclipse on Thursday, 
it being an Amavasya day. According to European calculation only Mars 
seems to be invisible in the sun's rays. If Rahu's figure, according to Whitney, 
were taken 15° less, then there is a solar eclipse. Takmg the longitude of 
Mercury 10° more, of Venus 9° less, of Jupiter 4° less and that of Saturn 
by 11° more, we get the* following figures for true places of planets, showing 
that all planets are heliacally set :— 

Sun 303° 35' 42" Jupiter 315° 06' 36' 

Mercury 290° 40' 06" Saturn 288° 17' 30" 

Venus 312° 28' 48" . ' . 

In brief, according to our astronomical works, all planets were together 
in the beginning of Kaliyuga, but the fact is otherwise. It may be that all 
planets were heliacally set, but we do not get even such a description in the 
Mahabharata and other works. At least 2600 years elapsed after Kaliyuga 
till the Surya Siddhanta and other works were compiled, and the Yuga system 
described by the Manu Smrti was in vogue before these works ; but it does 
not seem to have been proved that Kaliyuga actually started at such particular 
time The quotation from the Rig-Yajurveda v/2."the herbs which grew in three 
yugas before" has already been given on page 12. The fact that Kaliyuga com- ■ 
menced in the year 3179 B. S. was established beyond doubt in the Vedic 
and Vedanga Jyotisaage, is not proved from this quotation. Hence, there are 
grounds for suspicion that the asironomers fixed up that moment as the 
beginning of Kaliyuga at which all planets were found to be together, starting 
backward calculation from the year of compilation of the astronomical work. 


The Rohini constellation consists of 5 stars ; these together form the shape 
of a cart and hence, the group of stars is known as 'Rohini Sakata \ Of these 
5 stars the latitude of the northernmost star (Epsilon Tauri) is 2° 34 43 S 
and that of the junction star is 5° 28' S ; and when a planet while passing 
through this constellation possesses a latitude lying between the two figures, 
it is said to be piercing the 'cart'. The value of a planet's latitude depends 
upon its node. The moon's mode makes a complete revolution of the heavens, 
in about 18 years during which the moon is able to pass through the constella- 
tion for 5 or 6 years only. It was pointed out on page 31 that the moo ik 
generally used to pass through Rohini constellation from September 1884 to 
March 1888. The conjunction of the moon with Rohini star has remained an 
object of interest since very ancient time. The story of the Moon's love with 
Rohini is very famous in the Puranas. The whole* paragraph No. 5 (in Chapte r 

* There is a detailed description of this conjunction (and translation of the paragraph 

* also) given in chapter 'RajanI Vallabha' in the book "Jyotirvilasa" (See page 52^ 
second edition.) 

144 History of Indian Astronomy 

3, 2ndrAstaka of Taittirlya Samhita) contains stories about the moon's special 
attachment with RohinI, who was onfc of the 33 Prajapati's daughters given in 
marriage to him. These 33 daughters are the 27 stars from 27 Naksatras and 
six stars from Krttika group. It is evident that the story originated from 
the often observed conjunction of the moon with this star. This conjunction 
and its effects are described in detail in Garga and others' Samhitas; and we 
find that whole chapter No. 24 in Brhat Samhita is devoted to the topic of 
"'Moon's conjunction with RohinI ". 

' It is well known from the astronomical works that the piercing of the cons- 
tellation of RohinI by Saturn and Mars indicates disaster in the world. Varaha- 
mihira says, 

far «Rrfa *rfa ;*is£srm snr^mmTfa tfwi n 3H ii 

*• * * ♦ 

"If the Rohini constellation is crossed through by Saturn, Mars or the 
Moon, I will not be surprised if the whole world completely plunges into the 
ocean of disaster and gets ruined." 

GaneSa Daivajiia, the author of Graha Laghava, says, 

"The piercing of Rohini-cart by Saturn or Mars is a phenomenon rarely 
to occur after interval of yugas". 

In the present times when Saturn approaches RohinI, its maximum latitude 
becomes 1° 50' South and that of Mars, about 12' North ; hence, neither of 
thein pierces the cart. Then how could descriptions of disasters due to their 
passing through the constellation get into astrological works ? It is not that 
such a phenomenon is an impossibility. We know that Jupiter's south lati- 
tude never attains a value of 2° 35', and we do not read of the piercing of 
Rohini by Jupiter in the astrological works ; but this is not the case with 
Saturn and Mars. The maximum value of Saturn's south latitude is 2° 45', 
and that of Mars is 2° 53'. These planets, therefore, do come within the range 
of 'Rohini cart', some time during the revolution of their nodes in the sky. 
These revolutions take about 40 to 50 thousand years and some time during 
this period, these planets must have passed through the constellation of RohinI, 
While attempting to calculate possible years for Saturn the author finds that 
the crossings by these planets have never occurred after the commencement 
of £aka era ; not only this, it never occurred during 5000 years before Saka era. 
He found that in the year 5294 B.S. the tropical longitude of the northernmost 
-star of Rohini was 10 s 28° 2' and when Saturn came to that position, its south 
latitude was 2° 34'. From this,* it appears that near about this year and 
during a number of years before this, Saturn used to pierce the cart in each round. 
The time of piercing the cart by Mars appears to be much earlier. 
The Samhita works describe the effects of Sakatabheda by Saturn and Mars 
and since this crossing did not occur later than 5000 years B.S., it is proved 
that people in India had acquired knowledge of planets and their motions 
5000 years before l§aka era. 

* Calculations have been made from Prof. Chhatre's 'Table of planetary calculation*. 
1 he details of calculation are not given here for want of space. 

Vbdanoa Pbriod 145 

It is evident that people had acquired knowledge of stars even before this, 
and this lends a support to our views expressed about the times of theVedic 
period and that of compilation of the Rk-Samhita. 

kblttikAdi system 
irftwrx: **to* ii fsrsrm *wnf ii ?nfa t*RW*Tfa u 

iTfa "wrerarfT n \s 11 m^TTT it 

tf.wi. I.K.*. 

"Krttikas are the first and Visakha the last ; these constitute Divine nak- 
satras : Anuradha is the first and Apabharan! the last ; these constitute Yama 
naksatras : The divine stars turn from South (to North) and the Yama 
naksatras from North (to South)". 

The bracketted words are not given in the original text ; butMadhava- 
carya, the commentator of the Vedas has rendered the word ' daksinena * 
as * from south to north * in the following lines in the Taittiriya Samhita 
(See Chapter on 'ayana* by Kala Madhava). 

"The sun goes by the south for six months and for six months by the 

The word ' daksinena * can mean "to the south of a certain object" ; but 
no mention of a second object has been made in the sentence. If the divine 
stars be taken to be situated to the south of the ecliptic and the others to its 
north, it is an impossibility ; because, Krttikas lie to the north of the ecliptic, 
the next 3 constellations are situated to its south, and the next 2 are again found 
to lie to the north ; the stars are thus irregularly situated and the latitudes 
of the stars will never change (they might vary only by a minute or two 
of an arc in thousands of years). Hence, the description can not be said 
to be with reference to the ecliptic. Similarly it can not happen that all 
' Krttikadi' groups be found to be situated to the south of the equator 
and others to the north. The declination of stars always changes due to the 
precession of equinoxes, i.e. their position, north or south of the equator 
changes. But because the latitudes of some stars like Arcturus (SvatI), Altair 
(Havana), Delphini (Dhanistha), Alpha-Andromeda. (Uttarabhadrapada) 
are greater than 24°, these stars will never be found to lie to the south 
of the equator*. Hence, none of 13 consecutive constellations will be found 
to lie to any one side of the equator. If an observer stands at any place on the 
earth, he will not find half the number of constellations moving from the 
northern side and half from the southern. Hence, the line ' daksinena pari- 
yanti' can not be rendered as ' to the south of any particular object'. If we 
translate the above lines as " the Krttikadi stars move from South to North ", 
the sum total of the argument becomes that these are found to be situated 
in the sun's path when it moves from south to north. This leads one to 

* I have attempted to find the positions of stars in 2350 B.C., 1462 B.C., 570A.D. and 
1887 A.D., but I never found that 13 consecutive constellations were on the same side 
of the equator. The calculations can not be given for wan t of space.— Author. 

146 History of Indian Astronomy 

accept that the winter solstice used to occur on Krttika, and the time for the 
occurence of the W. S. there cohies to be 8750 B. C. But there are certain 
difficulties in translating the lines in this way. The Satapatha Brahmana 
definitely quotes the position of Krttikas as " rising to the East". If the above 
meaning be taken to be correct, the difference in the times of Satapatha and- 
Taittirlya Brahmanas comes to be about 6000 years, which is not possible 
-and since we get a definite reference of the W. S. occurring on Dhanisthas 
we should naturally expect to get references of the W. S. occurring on the 
intermediate 6 naksatras ,' but we do. not get this in any of the ancient works. 
It is also true that the star-lore was known to our people in such an ancient 
period is not an impossibility, as can be seen from the discussion of the topic 
<of "piercing of Rohinl-cart ". It is not still clear what these lines really mean. 


So far has been described in detail the astronomical knowledge which 
people obtained during the Vedic and Vedanga Jyotisa periods. The associa- 
tion of Greek astronomy with that of Indian, if it was formed at all, belongs 
to the later period. The whole knowledge described in this part has been 
independently obtained by the people of our country. The author describes 
in brief some special information chiefly related to their knowledge of motions 
and positions of planets. Other important things can be referred to the places 
where they have already been discussed in detail. 

People possessed knowledge about stars before 5000 B.S. The system 
of adding an intercalary month must have been introduced in those days. 
The months were lunar. They had obtained some knowledge about planets. 
This should not be taken to mean that they were able to predict planetary 
positions for the future. They found that planets have motion and they had 
begun to observe their positions with respect to stars. The months were then 
probably called by Madhu, Madhava etc. Caitra and other names of months 
<came into vogue at about 2000 years B. S. and till that time the year used to 
be tropical. Later on, it became sidereal in form because of introduction 
of ' Caitradi' names for months, but in principle the year was no doubt tro- 

The time of Satapatha Brahmana, from the references about Krttikas 
in it, comes to be 3000 B.S. and the Vedic Samhita undoubtedly belongs to an 
•earlier period. 

The time of Vedanga Jyotisa has been proved to be about 1500 B.S. In 
those days, the measure of the day was 60 ghatikas. The mean motions of 
the sun and the moon were tolerably accurate. The measure of the* solar 
year was erroneous ; still, that kind of solar year was in vogue. Not 
only the system of adding an intercalary month to bring agreement of the 
lunar year to the solar one was in use, but the year was divided into 12 solar 
months. The concept of the system of the Ecliptic being divided into 12 parts 
each part being divided into 30 divisions, and each such division subdi- 
vided into 60 parts, had taken root during this period ; and an important 
thing viz. introducing similar units for time divisions and area divisions came 
into practice. There are sufficient grounds to believe that the division of a circle 
into Rasis, degrees, minutes and seconds is the result of Hindu-imagination. 
It seems that people had acquired knowledge of mean motions and positions 
of planets by the end of the Vedanga period. 

Vedanga Period 147 

The next important step is the knowledge of true positions and motions 
of planets. It has been shown under discussion on the topic of ' 13-day 
half-month ' that people had acquired working knowledge of calculating 
true positions of the sun and the moon. It is more difficult to understand and 
calculate the true positions of planets than those of the sun and the moon 
fio definite proofs are known for the confirmation of this. But the fact that the 
retrograde and direct motions of planets used to be a topic of their discussion 
leads one to believe that people had come to know that the true positions are 
not regular like the mean positions, and hence it can be conjectured that they 
had probably begun to deliberate upon the aspect of true motions of planets. 
We find a mention of solar months in the Vedanga Jyotisa period. We come 
across names of Samkrantis as Ayana, Visuva, §adasiti, etc. From this it can 
be said that the system of dividing the ecliptic into 12 parts had come into 
vogue in the Vedanga Jyotisa period or very soon afterwards but the positions 
of planets are found to have been mentioned with respect to naksatras 
This shows that the system of indicating planetary places in terms of 12 Rasis 
Jiad not come into vogue then. 

The names of Rasis (Mesa and others) came into vogue at about 500 B.S. 
The names of week days came into use before then, and have been borrowed 
from foreign countries. 

The system of reckoning a Mahayuga as equivalent to 4320000 years 
must have come into vogue in a period earlier than Yaska. 

The Atharva Jyotisa shows that astrology came into existence into our 
•country quite independently. 

In short, the origin of the knowledge of calculation of the true places of 
planets and that of predicting their effects (i.e. astrology) had taken root at 
the end of the Vedanga Jyotisa period. The process .by which that know- 
ledge gradually developed into the form of treatises will be discussed in detail 
in the second part. 

MGIPC— S13— 2 DGO/59— 14-1 1-68— 750.